By Doug Chartier, LAW WEEK COLORADO
As the Arapahoe County Court continues filtering through thousands of potential jurors for the James Holmes trial, the prospect of an estimated five-month trial can make employers nervous.
For most companies, an employee’s selection to jury duty — and subsequent absence from work — can be commonplace when the trial may only take a few days at most. But recent events might have employers considering the scenario in which an employee would need jury duty leave for weeks or longer.
Colorado’s statutes regarding compensation and job protection for employees serving on a jury are clear-cut. The employer must pay the employee his or her regular wages for the first three days of juror service up to $50 per day. Also, the employer cannot deprive the employee of his or her position or benefits, nor can the employer threaten, harass or coerce the employee, on the basis of the jury duty.
Employed jurors can experience significant financial hardship during an extended trial seeing that they are only guaranteed a maximum of $250 of income per week, as the state pays their capped wages beyond the employer’s obligation of the initial three days. A lengthy trial can also saddle the employer with productivity issues stemming from the employee’s absence.