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In Maryland, can you be fired for reporting to jury duty?

Fair and impartial jurors are an integral part of the U.S. justice system. This is why, in Maryland, it is against the law for employers to take any adverse action - such as retaliatory termination - against employees for reporting to jury duty.

While there is no mandate in the state of Maryland for employers to pay their employees for time spent on jury duty, many employers do provide employees compensation for this civic duty.

Most states have employment laws similar to Maryland's in relation to jury duty. In Florida, the law bars employers from firing employees for reporting to jury duty as well as for threatening employees with termination for reporting to jury duty.

A Florida woman recently filed a lawsuit against her employer, claiming the real estate company fired her for reporting to jury duty last month. The 49-year-old North Naples woman said that before she reported for jury duty, she notified several supervisors.

However, her employer called her during her first day of jury duty and left a voicemail to tell her that she was fired, according to the suit. The company is denying any wrongdoing, countering that she was fired because of performance issues.

The woman's supervisor has been charged with misdemeanor contempt; she has pleaded not guilty.

It is somewhat unusual for employees to be fired for serving on a jury, but it does happen. As this lawsuit unfolds, we will learn whether this woman was fired for a legitimate reason or for reporting to her civic duty.

This case should remind employers and employees here in Maryland that it is against the law to fire someone for reporting to jury duty. In Maryland, employers are also not allowed to require an employee to use annual, sick or vacation leave while on jury duty. An employer who breaks these laws can be subject to criminal charges and the former employee may also sue for damages.

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

Source: Maryland Jury Service, "Employers and Jury Trials," Jan. 6, 2012

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