October 2011

Jury dutyMost Tennessee employers are required to pay employees their “usual compensation” for jury duty.  But, what time is included in the phrase “jury duty” for the purpose of paying employees who serve?

That question was the subject of a recent Tennessee Attorney General opinion.  The Attorney General clarified that, under Tennessee law, jury duty includes the travel time to and from court to report for jury service, even if the employee’s “usual compensation” at his/her job does not include travel time.

Based on Tennessee law, a juror is entitled to an excused absence from work and, for certain employers (unless have less than five employees) to payment in the amount of their “usual compensation” for the time attributed to jury service (unless the employee has been employed for less than six months).  Attorney General Robert Cooper noted that the compensation provision of the law expressly states that the employer is not required to pay more than the employee’s time “spent serving and traveling to and from jury duty.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 22-4-106(b) (emphasis added).  Thus, in an opinion that is not surprising given this statutory language, commuting time to and from court is included in an employee’s jury duty pay.

Based on recent developments, employers wonder how much leave is really required under the ADA.  It seems that employers with even generous policies and practices have run afoul of the EEOC either in individualized cases, or, worse yet, in class claims.

Most recently, Verizon Communications Inc. settled for a record $20 million payout based on EEOC allegations that Verizon’s no-fault attendance policies did not adequately provide for an individualized assessment of an employee’s condition.  The EEOC has been focusing on such “no-fault attendance” and “maximum leave” policies.

How much leave is required, however, is not the correct question.  The better question is:  “What must be included in the employer’s process of evaluating an employee’s need for leave?”

Compliance with the ADA is often a “process driven” evaluation.  How you do something is almost as important as what you do. Continue Reading ADA Developments – “How Much Leave Is Required?” Is the Wrong Question