Massachusetts Jury Duty/ Court Appearance laws & HR compliance analysis

Massachusetts Jury Duty/ Court Appearance: What you need to know

Jury duty. It is unlawful for any employer to discharge, harass, threaten, or coerce any employee for serving as a juror of any kind in any court. An employer that violates this provision may be held in contempt of court and prosecuted (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 268 Sec. 14A, MA Gen. Laws Ch. 234A Sec. 61).
An employee also may not be penalized with the loss of any benefits offered by the employer because of absence due to jury duty.
In addition, an employer may not impose working requirements that might impair an employee's performance as a juror. For example, employees may not be required to work each morning before reporting to jury duty. Violation of these provisions is subject to fine. The employee may also sue the employer for triple damages and attorneys' fees (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 234A Sec. 61).
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Court appearance. It is unlawful for any employer to discharge, penalize, or threaten an employee for attending court as a witness at a criminal action if the employer has been notified of the subpoena by the employee.
Violation of these provisions is subject to fine, imprisonment, or both (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 268, Sec. 14B).
A prosecutor may intercede with an employer to minimize any loss of pay or benefits for a witness. An employer that refuses to cooperate may be charged with sanctions (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 258B, Sec. 3(l)).
Private employers. Employers must pay employees their regular wages during the first 3 days of jury duty.
This provision applies to part-time, temporary, and casual employees as long as the employment hours of the juror reasonably may be determined by a schedule or by custom and practice established during the 3-month period preceding the term of jury service (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 234A Sec. 48).
However, if an employer can show at a hearing that such payment would impose an “extreme financial hardship,” the court may excuse payment. In that case, the state will pay the juror reasonable compensation for the first 3 days of service (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 234A Sec. 49).

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