Florida law prohibits employers from firing an employee for reporting to jury duty and for threatening employees with termination for reporting to jury duty. However, this does still happen from time to time.
A Florida woman is currently suing her employer for wrongful termination, claiming the company broke the law by firing her for reporting to jury duty. The 49-year-old North Naples woman worked for a real estate company which has offices in both Naples and Marco Island. The employee said that before she reported to jury duty, she notified her supervisor as well as several others supervisors of her civic duty.
While she was in the jury room, her employer called her to leave a message that she had been fired, the woman claimed. The company denied that they fired her because of her jury duty, and said that performance issues during her probationary employment period were the cause.
The woman’s supervisor is facing a misdemeanor contempt charge and she has pleaded not guilty. The owner of the company said that in the company’s 30-year history it has had 15 employees to serve jury duty and paid them.
It is unusual for employees to be fired for serving on a jury, but it does happen. Florida law allows employees who have been wrongfully terminated for reporting to jury duty to seek compensation and punitive damages, and several notable cases about this issue have taken place in Florida.
A Broward jury awarded a Fort Lauderdale woman almost $3 million after she said she was fired when she served in a murder trial in 1987. However, the decision was overturned it two years later and the case was settled for an undisclosed amount.
More recently, in 2007, a prosecutor filed contempt charges in Pasco County against a business owner after an employee was fired after reporting for jury duty. The employer denied the allegations, but he was found guilty.
It remains to be seen whether this woman was fired for responsibly reporting to her civic duty, or because of a legitimate performance issue. But, this case should be a reminder to Floridians that it is against the law to fire someone for reporting to jury duty, and those who have experienced wrongful termination have the right to contact an employment law attorney and seek legal recourse.
Source: Naples News, “Fired for jury duty? Jane Trejo-Beverly, Naples woman, sues employer Island Title 5 Star Agency,” Aisling Swift, Jan. 5, 2012