While many New Jersey employees are happy, or even eager, to fulfill their civic responsibility to serve on a jury when called, some people live in fear of being selected for jury duty. There are many possible reasons for this fear.
1. Some employees fear that they will be fired if they cannot come in to work.
In New Jersey, as in most other states, employers are prohibited from firing employees for serving jury duty.
N.J.S.A. 2B:20.17 provides that employers cannot penalize, threaten, or coerce employees because they are selected for jury duty. In addition to possibly seeing their employer found guilty of a disorderly persons offense, a New Jersey worker can sue their employer for monetary damages and attorney’s fees, and be reinstated in their job.
If you are called for jury duty, you will need to follow all policies your employer has in place, including informing them in advance, and providing proof of attendance.
2. Some employees fear that they will lose income by being called for jury duty.
This is a reasonable fear, as individuals selected to serve on a petit jury (regular jury) are paid only $5.00 per day for their first three days, and $40.00 per day after that. Neither New Jersey nor federal law requires employers to pay their employees who are called for jury duty. However, some employers do pay their employees who have jury duty, even for extended periods. For instance, if you are an employee of the State of New Jersey, you will receive your full pay during jury duty, and you will not receive the juror pay from the court. Other employers choose to pay workers up to a certain number of days while they are on jury duty.
If your employer will not pay you for your time on jury duty, and this will cause you a severe financial hardship, you can request to be excused from jury duty. To be excused, you must demonstrate that serving on a jury would make it difficult for you to support yourself or dependents. You must provide documents to prove that you would suffer severe financial hardship, and/or discuss the difficulty with the trial judge during the jury selection process.
Financial hardship is one of many reasons you may request to be excused from jury duty. You can read more about this, and other frequently asked questions about jury duty in New Jersey, at http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/juryreporting/juryfqa.pdf.
3. Some New Jersey workers who are unemployed may fear that serving on a jury will endanger their ability to receive unemployment compensation.
Prospective jurors who are unemployed and eligible to receive unemployment compensation, remain eligible for benefits. However, if you are assigned to jury duty when you have a job interview scheduled, you should contact the Jury Management Office to have your jury service rescheduled.
Jury duty is an important civic responsibility, as a right to trial by a jury of one’s peers is crucial to our nation’s legal system. If you are selected for jury duty, consider what would happen if everyone reneged on this responsibility.
By Jennifer Vorih, Esq. and Ty Hyderally, Esq.
This blog is for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice, and may not reasonably be relied upon as such. If you face a legal issue, you should consult a qualified attorney for independent legal advice with regard to your particular set of facts. This blog may constitute attorney advertising. This blog is not intended to communicate with anyone in a state or other jurisdiction where such a blog may fail to comply with all laws and ethical rules of that state of jurisdiction.