No, not in Georgia. Under Georgia law, it is illegal to fire an employee because of his or her absence from work due to jury service or for responding to a subpoena.
Georgia’s statute, O.C.G.A. § 34-1-3 states, “it shall be unlawful for any 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 ….”
The law even prohibits an employer from threatening to take such action: “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.”
So, what can you do if you’ve been threatened or terminated for participating in jury duty? The law allows courts (and juries) to award damages: “Any employer or agent of such employer who violates … 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.”
But there is one big exception to this prohibition. If an employee is charged with a crime and must attend court to answer for the charges, they are not protected under the statute. In other words, if you are absent from work because you have to go to court on your own criminal charge, you can be lawfully terminated.
In addition, if your employer has a policy requiring notice, then the statute does not prohibit your employer from taking an action against you for not giving timely notice. To protect yourself, you should give notice to your employer of your jury summons or subpoena as soon as you receive it.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against, disciplined, or terminated because you responded to a subpoena for a deposition or trial, or a summons to appear for jury duty, you should consult with a Georgia Employment Attorney like Rob to enforce your rights.