We don’t know the name, employer or appearance of “Juror 21”, but the scandal that surrounds the termination of her employment radiated throughout the nation over the past week after the New York Times reported her situation.
The accountant and single mother of three was chosen to serve on the jury for the terrorism trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the son-in-law of Osama Bin Laden. But it wasn’t long before her employer, claiming to have worked out which case she was on, let her know that she would only be paid for three days. Shortly afterwards, she found out she was being demoted, and then, she was laid off.
If Juror 21’s employer had indeed discovered which case she was on, it would make sense that the company was reluctant to continue employing her while she served. Unlike other cases, this terrorism case is expected to be lengthy, and is likely to last about a month.
However, federal law means it’s illegal to discharge, intimidate or coerce permanent employees called to jury duty, although state legislation varies as to whether employees need to be compensated. In New York, employers are only required to pay employees $40 a day, and only for the first three days of a trial.
Deputy courtroom clerk Andrew Mohan told reporters the employer had said the termination “was to her benefit, because then she could collect unemployment while she was doing jury duty, and that she could reapply for her job after the trial.”
Canadian legislation bans employers from firing someone because they are on jury duty, but does not require employers to pay their workers while serving on a jury.