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Protection For Employees Participating In The Judicial System

Employment law is not always rational.  For example, in Texas, except in limited circumstances, an employee can be terminated for reporting illegal conduct.  Ridiculous I know, but our legal system is not designed to provide a remedy for every wrong, only those Congress or the State legislature has chosen to address. One area where Texas got it right is in protecting employees who participate in the judicial system.  It would be an odd system that required citizens to respond to subpoenas and juror summons but allowed their employers to terminate them for doing so.  Under Texas law, you are protected for participating in the legal system in three different capacities. 1.  As a juror.   A private employer may not terminate an employee because the employee serves as a juror.  "[S]erves as a juror" has been interpreted as including showing up to claim a statutory exemption.  So, one need not be actually picked as a juror to be protected from termination.  Juror retaliation cases are somewhat rare.  However, I've handled a few, and they tend to be strong cases.  The statute provides for reinstatement and not less than one and not more than five year's lost wages, as well as attorney's fees. 2.  As a subpoenaed witness.  An employer may not "discharge, discipline, or penalize in any manner" an employee for complying with a subpoena to appear in a "civil, criminal, legislature, or administrative proceeding."  An employee who is the victim of this type of discrimination is entitled to reinstatement, up to six months of lost wages and attorney's fees.  3.  As a party or witness in a discrimination case.  An employer may not discharge, fail to hire, promote or discriminate in any manner against a party or witness in an employment discrimination case (regardless of whether that witness is subpoenaed).  An employee of this type of discrimination may seek reinstatement, economic damages, as well as non-economic damages and punitive damages (subject to a statutory damage cap) and attorney's fees. Federal law also prohibits retaliation against jurors and witnesses.  In fact, under federal law a party who is discriminated against because of juror service may be able to have an attorney appointed and paid for by the government if he can't afford one.  So, if you are summoned to jury service, subpoenaed as a witness, or asked to testify in a employment discrimination case, you should do so.  You are protected against retaliation at your place of employment, and you never know when you may need someone to testify in a case you in which you are involved.  GSF

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