Your Employment Rights in Oklahoma: Jury Duty

Posted by: Chris

You open your mailbox, and your heart sinks—a summons for jury duty. Darn, you are one of the few who enjoys getting a summons to provide juror service, but you just started a new job. Your boss is not going to like it if you are already missing work. What will you do?

You consider not showing up. Some of your friends tell you that's what they do, but you don’t want to be one of those people, not to mention potentially finding yourself on the wrong side of the law. You sigh and head in to work. You are hopeful your boss will understand, though the loss of income will be hard, but it is your civic duty, after all.

Jury duty is not something everyone looks forward to, but it is a necessary part of our judicial process. Everyone’s rights depend on a full pool of jurors to have the benefit of a trial by our peers. If we were ever unfortunate enough to be on the other side, we would certainly hope that people would show up to do their part.

Fortunately, jury duty, being a responsibility, is not something that we can lose our jobs over. An employer is required to provide us with time off from work. Better still, although employers are not always required to pay us for our time (if we are hourly, non-exempt workers), some do. Any employee exempt from overtime pay is entitled to his or her full salary as long as service does not extend beyond one week (and the amount can be offset by any reimbursement received from the court).

In Oklahoma, an employer is required to allow its employees to take time off for jury duty without negative consequences, so no change in position, shift, or pay is allowed. However, if an Oklahoma employer has five or fewer employees and one employee has already served jury duty in the same time period, a second employee may be excused from service.

An employer is not allowed to require that an employee use vacation, sick, or personal days to cover an absence due to jury duty. However, an employee may choose to do so.

An employee has the responsibility to provide his or her employer with reasonable notice of their pending service and jury summons and cannot use it as a last minute excuse to miss work.

The requirement to allow people to attend jury duty is one that is, not surprisingly, taken seriously by the courts. Any employer who violates an employee's rights by taking an adverse action for participating in the jury process is subject to punishment, including fines, as well as damages to the wronged employee. Money damages that may be granted include lost wages, mental anguish, and all reasonable damages incurred in finding new suitable employment.

Jury duty is both a right and a responsibility. If you or someone you know has been punished for trying to exercise your right, an attorney who knows the law can help you achieve the restitution you are entitled to. Contact us today at 918-582-5200 or complete our Contact Form today to get started.