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Jury Duty

  1. Jury duty leave is job-protected leave. An employee who is on jury duty is entitled to protection against termination or other adverse action by the employer (see §§ 122.001 and 122.0022 of the Juror's Right to Reemployment Act in the Texas Civil Practices & Remedies Code). However, paid leave for jury duty is not required - see below.

  2. Just as with military leave and leave to serve as a subpoenaed witness in a court or administrative proceeding, an employer should not count jury duty leave toward an absence limit, such as one found in a neutral absence control policy.

  3. Texas law does not currently require that jury duty leave be paid, except for those who are salaried exempt employees (see below). A bill that would have required employers to pay $40 of jury duty pay for the first day of jury service did not pass during the 81st general session of the Texas Legislature in 2009. The general rule under both Texas and federal law is that an employer does not need to pay for time not worked. That would include time spent on jury duty. See http://www.co.travis.tx.us/district_clerk/jury/E2.asp for one Texas county's explanation regarding jury duty pay.

  4. In addition, time spent on jury duty is not time worked for purposes of the FLSA, so it would not count toward overtime. Finally, even if an employer has an optional jury duty paid leave policy, the hours so paid would not count toward overtime, just as other types of paid leave and paid holiday hours do not count toward overtime.

  5. If an employer does pay the regular wages or salary while an employee is serving on the jury, the law would allow the company to require the employee to turn over the jury duty pay to the company.

  6. Specific rules apply in the special situation of exempt salaried employees. In the event of absences due to jury duty, witness duty, or temporary military duty, if an employee works any part of a week and misses the rest of the week for jury, witness, or military duty, he or she must receive the full salary for the workweek, but if they miss a full week, no pay is due for that week (see 29 C.F.R. 541.602(a)); however, partial-week deductions from leave balances are allowed. Do not forget that a deduction allowed under the FLSA for a week not worked must be authorized in writing by the employee to be valid under the Texas Payday Law (see item 12 of the sample wage deduction authorization agreement in this book). However, that special rule affects only salaried exempt employees. It does not affect non-exempt employees, or exempt employees who do not have to be paid a salary, such as doctors, lawyers, and teachers.

  7. Thus, the above limitation pertains to partial-week deductions from salary. Deductions for an entire workweek would be legal, if they are authorized by the employee in writing under the Texas Payday Law. Deductions from paid leave would be legal in any amount.

  8. A deduction from the salary of a non-exempt employee could be made for jury duty time, but would have to be authorized by the employee in writing under the Texas Payday Law, or else covered with available paid leave. It would not be a recommended practice to discipline an employee for refusal to authorize such a deduction, since it might be possible for the employee to convince a court that the discipline somehow violated the juror protection law. In most situations, a reasonable alternative would be to give the employee a paid leave advance, and simply offset future leave accruals by the amount so advanced, or else deduct the advance from the employee's final pay at the time of work separation (see item 11 of the sample wage deduction authorization agreement in this book).

  9. Concerning paid leave deductions, such deductions are legal for any employee as long as they do not conflict with the employer's written paid leave policies. An employer should cover the issue of using paid leave for jury duty-related absences in its written policy, and clearly specify whatever procedures employees need to follow.

  10. Requiring an employee to use vacation or other paid leave time for jury duty leave does not conflict with either Texas or federal law. It would be a good idea to ensure that there is no wording in the company's vacation/PTO policy that would prohibit or complicate application of paid leave to a jury duty absence.

  11. Where a company can get into trouble is if it treats its jury-duty employees less favorably than other employees with regard to pay and leave practices. Example: a salaried exempt employee on jury duty misses part of a week to serve on the jury, and the company requires her to apply available paid leave to the part of the week not worked, but does not impose the same requirement on another salaried exempt employee who misses part of a workweek for a different reason. Such disparate treatment would arguably violate the jury duty law.

 

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