There are numerous urban legends and endless misinformation about employers’
rights and obligations to employees when the employee has to appear in
court (as something other than a defendant). Here is a basic summary of
relevant Georgia law on this subject:
Georgia’s jury duty leave law comes in under the Official Code of
Georgia Annotated at Title 15, Ch. 1; Title 20, Ch. 2, Art. 17, Part 5;
Title 34, Ch. 1. Corresponding regulations for state employment are located
in the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia at Title 478, Ch. 478-1.
The statutes and regulations, with some exceptions, make it unlawful for
an employer to discharge, discipline, or otherwise penalize an employee
because the employee is absent from employment for the purpose of attending
a judicial proceeding in response to a subpoena, summons for jury duty,
or other court order or process that requires the attendance of the employee
at the judicial proceeding (Sec. 34-1-3(a) and Ga CompR &Regs 478-1-.18,
Sec. 18.600). It is also unlawful for an employer to threaten any sort
of retaliation toward an employee who is required to appear in court.
Exceptions: The law covers both public and private employers. However,
it does not keep the employer from requiring reasonable notice to the
employer, and does not apply to a defendant in a criminal action. It also
exempts a state agency if the employee is a party to civil litigation
or has some other personal interest in a lawsuit. State employees are
also required to submit a request for leave, accompanied by a copy of
the subpoena or other court document.
Time and Money: State employees are allowed to miss as much work time as
the court requires that employee’s attendance, as well as reasonable
travel time. The employee continues to get paid for that period.
The law has a civil penalty section, which allows a lawsuit for actual
damages plus attorney’s fees. It allows both for a jury proceeding
and for a direct court action for contempt, with civil judgment penalties
in the contempt action.
Georgia has also enacted a law on the same topic specifically targeted
For more information or to talk to a
Georgia employment lawyer, contact Buckley Beal LLC.