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I signed an offer for a new position last night, and I am due to start work on November 30. Just today, I received a letter in the mail from the state in which I live, where they summoned me for Jury Duty on December 16th. I'm a bit nervous about having to take off as a result of this, because I've heard it looks very bad for an employee to take any days off within the 90-day probationary period. How do I handle this elegantly?

I should also add that the state in which I live does not take work as an excuse to avoid jury duty, and avoiding jury duty in the US is a crime.

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  • For people that are not from USA and don't know how all this works: if you have to go to jury duty, how much would you miss work ? Is it 1 day ? 1 week ? Multiple days spread over multiple months ? Does it vary a lot with the type of trial that you'll be part of ? – Radu Murzea Oct 31 '15 at 10:03
  • @Radu it really depends. If you get called to Jury Duty, it could last a day or a week, depending on the case. For famous cases like Casey Anthony, etc. it could be well over a month (but those are rare). – Lawrence Aiello Oct 31 '15 at 16:33
  • You can always take a postponement. Just call the number on the summons. – teego1967 Nov 1 '15 at 3:23
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Most jurisdictions will allow you to postpone jury duty for a limited time; contact the local authorities and ask.

However, every employer is aware that jury duty will catch up with each employee periodically. Ask them if you should postpone for their sake... but I think you'll be told that this is actually an ideal time to get it out of the way, when you aren't yet completely entangled in the job. They might suggest you could spend some of the many hours of waiting time reading up on your new assignment; that's up to you.

So: Ask about options, ask about preferences, don't be afraid of either, get it over with (may you either have a short duty or an interesting one, preferably both), and dive into work when it's over.

It could be much worse; you could be subject to a military call-up. This is usually just a nuisance.

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  • Agreed, and I think the thing to stress here is that you should loop your employer in about the situation and figure out what's the best way to handle it. Unless they're completely unreasonable they won't hold it against you for being called to serve on a jury. It's completely out of your hands after all. What they may not like is if you don't tell them why you're taking time off, and work with them to make the time as productive as possible. If they don't know it's for jury duty, they may assume you're going on vacation. They can't know unless you tell them. – DIMMSum Oct 31 '15 at 14:59
  • Also, some companies have policies which will pay you for time on jury duty, though you may need to coordinate with them so they can subtract any money the government gives you for your time... another very good reason let them know asap. – keshlam Oct 31 '15 at 15:10
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If it's a federal court, you are protected by federal law from losing your job due to jury duty. The same holds true in most states for state & local courts, but you'll have to check your local laws. Your employer may not be required to pay you while you're serving on the jury, but they can't fire you over it.

Source

As you already know, skipping out on jury duty is a crime. If your employer is asking you to violate a federal law so that you can be at work or they're intimidating, threatening, or otherwise making your work life difficult as a result of your being called for jury duty, you're better off without them.

But you may be worrying over nothing. The jury might be filled before they get to your number. You might get interviewed & excused in 5 minutes. The case may be settled after the jury is selected but before the trial starts in earnest. You'll have fulfilled your obligations and spent little or no time away from work.

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