My employer has declined to allow me to appear in court today. I missed two jury summonses and have been issued an order to appear to explain. I am due to show today, however, my employer has a lot to get done today (big client deadlines, etc.), and has declined me request to leave. Is this legal? He mentioned a 48-hour notice requirement. What should I do? Is there an application for excusal? I do not want to be imposed monetary sanctions.


If you don't go to court the court can issue an arrest warrant. Telling the court that your employer forbade you may or may not let you avoid punishment for contempt.

You are obliged as an employee to follow the lawful and reasonable requests of your employer. Telling you not to follow a summons is neither legal (technically it's an attempt to pervert the course of justice) nor reasonable. Presumably, the requirement for 48 hours notice is contractual: contracts are only valid where they are not in conflict with the law: this is.

If you go your employer is under no obligation to pay you for the time you miss but it would not be lawful for them to impose sanctions.

Call the court, ask to speak to the registrar, explain the situation and ask what to do. Then do that.


California Labor Code 230 states that you may not be penalized for being called to jury duty, nor may you be penalized if you or a family member are the victim of a felony or are called as a witness in a judicial proceeding, nor if you are the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and are taking time off to seek injunctive relief. The most applicable subsection is (b):

An employer shall not discharge or in any manner discriminate or retaliate against an employee, including, but not limited to, an employee who is a victim of a crime, for taking time off to appear in court to comply with a subpoena or other court order as a witness in any judicial proceeding.

If you are going to appear as a witness, you are covered, although on the face of it you are facing an accusation, and not serving as a witness, so you would need to persuade him that what you're doing is "being a witness". Given the specificity of the laws, and the fact that they don't say something like "are ordered to appear in court for any reason", then I think it is unlikely that the court would compel the employer to allow you to appear (they would have no statutory authority), unless they conclude that you are being a witness. If not, you may be able to request a postponement of the hearing, until a time when you are not scheduled to work.

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