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Company sued by employee after she was fired during jury duty

Can employees in the U.S. be fired for not showing up to work while they do their civic duty of reporting to jury duty? Although many states do protect employees' jobs while they are called to serve jury duty, one woman recently filed a lawsuit against her employer claiming that she was fired after she was selected as a jury member for a trial.

The 49-year-old woman has cited wrongful termination in her lawsuit against the real estate title company she was fired from last month. However, her former employer claims that they fired the woman because she was not performing her job well during her probationary period.

According to the lawsuit that was filed last month, the woman said that she found out on the evening of Dec. 13, 2011 that she needed to report to a Florida courthouse by 8:30 the next morning. The woman claims that she texted the office manager at her work and also notified her employer by email that she would not be coming in to work on the morning of Dec. 14, and she would let her office know as soon as possible if she had been selected or not to serve on a jury. According to the lawsuit, the supervisor even texted the employee back confirming that the office knew she would be reporting to the courthouse.

The next day when the woman was on break at the courtroom, she checked her phone's voicemail after noticing a call from her employer and discovered she had been fired. In the voicemail her supervisor also stated, "I'm sorry you had to be out of the office this morning and you didn't tell us."

After the incident, the woman filed a lawsuit against the company, accusing the former employer of breaking the law by terminating her during her jury obligation. The owner of the company said the termination was a result of the woman not performing her job well as a new employee. She had just started at the company in November and had not yet passed her probationary period. The supervisor also stated that the woman did not give the company enough notice that she was selected for jury duty.

The woman said that she hopes her lawsuit will remind employers and employees of the state and federal laws the jobs of Americans are protected under.

Source: Naples News, "Fired for jury duty? Jane Trejo-Beverly, Naples woman, sues employer Island Title 5 Star Agency," Aisling Swift, Jan. 5, 2012