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In Georgia, and indeed throughout the United States, we take jury duty
seriously. An employer is not allowed to fire you because you served on
a jury, even one that lasted a long time (like many grand juries do, for
example). Your boss also cannot threaten your job, discipline you, or
penalize you simply because you did what the law required you to do –
show up for jury duty.

As a
Georgia personal injury attorney practicing here in Atlanta, but handling cases throughout the State of
Georgia, I know how important jurors are to our legal system. In Georgia,
we have a statute that states:

“It shall be unlawful for any employer or the agent of such employer
to discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize an employee because the
employee is absent from his or her employment for the purpose of attending
a judicial proceeding in response to a subpoena, summons for jury duty,
or other court order or process which requires the attendance of the employee
at the judicial proceeding. It shall be unlawful for any employer or the
agent of such employer to threaten to take or communicate an intention
of taking any action declared to be unlawful by this subsection.”

O.C.G.A. § 34-1-3.

If your employer does fire you, the same statute says that you are entitled
to damages:

“Any employer or agent of such employer who violates subsection (a)
of this Code section shall be liable to the injured employee for all actual
damages thereby suffered by the employee and for reasonable attorney’s
fees incurred by the employee in asserting a successful claim under this
Code section.”

O.C.G.A. 34-1-3(b).

In other words, you have a “civil remedy for an employee who is discharged
from work for being absent in order to attend a judicial proceeding pursuant
to a subpoena.” Reilly v. Alcan Aluminum Corp., 272 Ga. 279, 280,
n.8 (Ga. 2000). See also Eckhardt v. Yerkes Reg’l Primate Ctr.,
254 Ga. App. 38, 38-39 (Ga. Ct. App. 2002); O.C.G.A. § 34-1-3 (employer
cannot discharge employee who is absent to attend judicial proceeding
in response to court order); Mattox v. Yellow Freight Sys., 243 Ga. App.
894, 894-895 (Ga. Ct. App. 2000) (O.C.G.A. § 34-1-3 “grant[s]
the employee a civil remedy for an employer violation”; “an
employee may recover actual damages from an employer who penalizes the
employee for attending a judicial proceeding in response to a court order.”)

Georgia takes jury duty so seriously because our entire justice system
depends on jurors showing up to resolve disputes between their fellow
citizens. As parties impatiently await their day in court, lawyers spend
years preparing cases and judges spend hours making decisions along the
way. But the entire system would grind to a halt if jurors did not show
up to hear the cases. The most stirring closing arguments, the most compelling
testimony, and the most important evidence all amount to nothing if they
are shown to an empty courtroom.

The vast majority of Georgia employers would never penalize an employee
simply for obeying a jury summons. But just in case – the statute
is there to protect employees who do the right thing by obeying the jury
summons from the Court.