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Leave for Jury Duty
Although Oregon is an “at will” employment state, meaning that an employer or an employee may terminate an employment relationship at any time for any reason, two of the four exceptions are:
 
  • An employer, in an “at will” employment state, is legally prohibited from terminating an employee for a “socially undesirable motive.” Under this exception, an employer may not discharge or retaliate against an employee because the employee fulfills an important societal obligation, such as serving on jury duty.

 

  • An employer may not discharge or retaliate against an employee because the employee serves on jury duty.   ORS 10.090 
 
Q. One of my employees just received a summons to jury duty next month. Since this is a critical time for us as seasonal business, is there a hardship exemption that we could claim? May I require my employee to defer jury service?
 
A. A judge or clerk of the court may excuse a person from acting as a juror or defer that service on the basis of an undue hardship or extreme inconvenience to the person, the person’s family, the person’s employer or even the public served by that person. There are a couple of points to keep in mind, however. The court must balance the public need for juries against the individual circumstances offered as a justification for excuse from jury service, and a request for excusal does not mean the court will necessarily grant that excusal. You may not discharge or retaliate against an employee who chooses to perform jury service. ORS 10.090.
 
You could create liability for yourself in court. In a case ultimately decided by the Oregon Supreme Court, Nees v. Hocks, Or., 536 P2d 512 (1975), the employer was found liable for compensatory damages for its termination of an employee who had gone on jury duty despite the employer’s request that the employee seek an excusal. 
 
Note: A judge or clerk of the court may defer jury service more than once for good cause only.  Anyone requesting a second deferral must provide a list of not less than 10 dates within the following six-month period on which the person would be able to commence jury service. ORS 10.055.
 
Q. Does the law require employers to pay an employee’s wages for time served on jury duty?
 
A. Some employers do offer regular pay as if an employee is working as a benefit when the employee leaves work under a summons to serve on jury duty in order to encourage their employees to fulfill an important societal obligation. 
 
For the employers who don’t offer regular pay as a benefit for jury duty:
 
Wage and hour law requires an hourly employee or non-exempt employee be paid for all hours worked. When an employee takes leave to serve as a juror, the employer is not required to pay the employee for hours not worked. 
 
However, under wage and hour law there are different requirements for exempt salaried employees. In order for these employees to remain exempt, they must receive their full salary for any work week in which work is performed. Absence for jury duty is not one of the specific reasons for which an employer may reduce an exempt employee’s salary. 
 
Example 1:  A salaried exempt employee has been subpoenaed for jury duty for two weeks.  The employee reports to the court house as required every day and is not selected to serve. Every day the employee is dismissed by the administrator of the court at about noon and returns to work. In this example, this salaried exempt employee must receive the full salary for the two weeks of jury duty.
 
Example 2:  An employer’s workweek is from Sunday to Saturday. A salaried exempt employee has been subpoenaed for jury duty for two weeks. The employee works the Sunday before jury duty commences to finish a project. The employee reports to the court house as required every day and is selected to serve on a jury. In this example, this salaried exempt employee must receive the full salary for the first week of jury duty due to performing work during the workweek on Sunday but is not entitled to compensation for the second week of jury duty in which no work is performed during the entire work week.
 
Employers should note that while they may not make salary deductions for absences of a salaried exempt employee caused by jury duty, the employer may offset any amounts received by an employee as jury fees for a particular week against the salary due for that particular week without loss of the exemption. 29 C.F.R. §541.602(b)(3). 
 
Note: Employers are also prohibited from requiring hourly or salaried exempt employees use vacation leave, sick leave or other annual leave for time spent in responding to jury summons.    
ORS 10.090(2).
 
Q. One of my employees was selected for service on a trial which will last several months. Am I required to continue the employee’s health care insurance?
 
A. Employers of 10 or more employees are required to continue health, disability, life or other insurance coverage for an employee during times when the employee serves or is scheduled to serve as a juror. ORS 10.092.
 
There is a small-employer exemption, and these requirements do not apply for employers with nine or fewer employees. The continuation of health, disability, life or other insurance coverage would be up to a small employer’s benefits policy to define when and how an employee qualifies for coverage and under what circumstances that coverage will be discontinued.
 
December 2017


 

DISCLAIMER 
Nothing on this website is intended as legal advice.  Any responses to specific questions are based on the facts as we understand them, and not intended to apply to any other situations.  This communication is not an agency order.  If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney.  We attempt to update the information on this website as soon as practicable following changes or developments in the laws and rules affecting Oregon employers, but we make no warranties or representations, express or implied, about whether the information provided is current.  We urge you to check the applicable statutes and administrative rules yourself and to consult with legal counsel prior to taking action that may invoke employee rights or employer responsibilities or omitting to act when required by law to act.
 
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FOR EMPLOYERS
800 NE OREGON STREET, STE 1045
PORTLAND, OR  97232
971-673-0824
 
 
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