The Tennessee Attorney General recently issued an opinion finding that Tennessee law requires employers to pay employees for time spent traveling to and from jury duty.
While Tennessee law clearly required employers to provide an employee with the employee's "usual compensation" for serving on a jury, there was a question as to whether the employee was entitled to payment for travel time to and from the court when the employee was not usually compensated for travel to and from work. According to the Attorney General, the statute's reference to "usual compensation" includes the time the employee spends traveling to and from jury duty.
The Attorney General's interpretation of the statute poses a potential trap for the unwary employer who is not accustomed to paying employees for travel time. In fact, in most cases, employers are not obligated to pay employees for travel from their homes to work and back each day. Accordingly, human resources and payroll professionals should note this exception to the general rule and make sure that employees are properly compensated when reporting for jury duty.