PAID PERPETUAL JURY DUTY
Everyone knows that if a fed is called to jury duty, he/she continues to receive salary for the duration of that duty. But what if the employee volunteers for jury duty; in fact, what if the employee actively seeks every moment of jury duty she can get? Is there a limit on how much jury duty time she can be paid for?
Nope! At least that is what the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled. It overturned a decision of a lower court that asserted that the employee is only entitled to compensation for jury duty which is commanded by a court.
This is an odd case. The employee agreed to transfer from California to Washington, D.C. at the request of her agency. Then just as she was about to make the move, she asked to delay it to care for her sick mother. The agency agreed to a five-month delay. During that time the employee volunteered for grand jury service and was selected to serve for 12 months. The record only says her manager was “displeased” at that news, but agreed to pay her for the entire 12-month grand jury term.
As that term was about to end, the agency ordered the employee to report to Washington. The employee responded by volunteering for another 12-month tour of grand jury duty. Hearing that news, the agency placed the employee on AWOL and then removed her. That happened in 2005, but four year later, after MSPB refused to hear her appeal of the removal, she asked a court to order that she be compensated for the time spent on the second grand jury tour.
The Court of Claims called her appeal absurd and dismissed it. She appealed to the circuit court and won because that court found that the statutory entitlement to compensated jury duty leave did not depend on whether the employee had volunteered for the duty. Tile 5 USC 6632(a) provides that the employee must be paid “during a period of absence with respect to which he is summoned, in connection with a judicial proceeding, by a court or authority responsible for the conduct of that proceeding, to serve . . .as a juror.”
If you want to read this case decision, enter the employee’s name, Dawn Hall, at this web site.
It strikes us that we all might see a surge of employees volunteering for jury duty. We would also not be surprised to hear about some representatives advising employees who are heading for a PIP to volunteer for the duty just to extend the time he/she is likely to be on the rolls.