I'm an executive assistant at a large corporation and work long hours. My employer has classified me as an exempt employee, so I receive a salary but no overtime. Recently, I was called for jury duty and spent three days at the courthouse. In the middle of selecting the jury, the parties settled, so everyone was dismissed. My company's policy is that time off for jury duty is unpaid, so it deducted three days' worth of pay from my paycheck. Is this legal?
No, this is not legal because you are an exempt employee.
Under federal law, employers must allow their employees to take time off from work to serve on juries. When it comes to nonexempt employees – those who are paid by the hour and subject to overtime laws – employers do not have to pay for this time off. For example, if a nonexempt employee is absent from work for three days for jury duty, he or she is not entitled to pay for those three days.
When it comes to exempt employees, however, the rules are different. Under federal law, employers may not deduct an exempt employee's pay for jury duty leave, unless the employee does no work for the entire week. For example, if you were absent for a full week and didn't do any work from home or at the courthouse during down time, your employer would not have to pay you for that week.
In this case, you were absent for three days but returned to work for the remaining two days. Because you performed at least some work during the workweek, you must be paid your full salary for that week. In other words, it is illegal for your employer to deduct three days of pay from your check.
Your employer can, however, offset any amounts that you receive in jury fees from the state. For example, some states offer a nominal fee for jurors, usually in the range of $10 to $30 per day. If you received any jury fees, your employer can lawfully deduct this amount from your paycheck.