Committee Reports

Proposal to Require Payment of Jurors by Employers






The right to a jury of one’s peers is the cornerstone of the criminal justice system, and yet in New York State the loss of wages by a juror means wide swaths of the population cannot serve. Any lawyer who has attempted to pick a jury in New York has heard jurors explain that they would be willing to serve but cannot because their employer will not pay them, meaning they would not be able to make their rent payments or put food on their tables. Even employees of large corporations frequently report that they will not be paid, despite the minimal impact paying an employee’s wages during actual jury service would have on a corporation’s profit margin. It is a detriment to defendants and the system as a whole to allow perpetuation of a status quo in which almost all hourly workers must either be excused from jury service or risk their own financial security because employers are not required to pay jurors’ wages.


This is not true throughout the country. Alabama law requires that all employers pay any full-time employee their full compensation for the length of the jury service and forbids employers from deducting time spent in jury service from the employee’s annual or sick leave time.[1] Similarly, Tennessee requires employers with more than five employees to continue to pay all employees their full wage during jury service, so long as the employee has been working for the employer for more than six months. It further requires that the employer excuse the employee from night shift or morning work that would require employees to work full time and be jurors simultaneously.[2]


In contrast, New York requires only that employers with ten or more employees pay their employees $40 per day during jury service, and even that paltry amount must be paid only for three days. The burden of jury service for New Yorkers thus falls exclusively on the employee, a disservice to the criminal justice system which operates most fairly and equitably with a robust and diverse jury pool. It is time to shift the burden of this important civic duty so it may be shared by both jurors and their employers. 


The New York City Bar Association calls on the New York State legislative to amend Judiciary Law §519 as described in Appendix A so as to require employers to (1) pay employees their regular wages during jury service if the employer employs twenty-five or more persons, (2) excuse jurors from night shift work, and (3) forbid the reduction of any leave time for serving on a jury. In addition, we call for an amendment to the powers of the Labor Commissioner to allow for the investigation of any violations of this act.


Criminal Justice Operations Committee
Sarah J. Berger, Chair

Criminal Courts Committee
Terri S. Rosenblatt, Chair

Labor & Employment Committee
Katherine A. Greenberg, Chair

April 2020

Click here to see Appendix A



[1] Alabama Stat. 12-16-8.

[2] Tenn. Stat. 22-4-106.