King County denied employee time off for jury duty

by: John Knicely Updated:

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SEATTLE, Wash. —

By law employers are required to give their workers time off for jury duty, but a King County employee was recently denied time off and nearly ended up pulling around-the-clock hours.  

KIRO 7 went to the county to find out how it happened and what they're doing to fix the problem. 

In jury selection for the rape trial against Seattle attorney Danford Grant, King County Community and Health Services employee Ronald Jefferson told the judge he wasn't being allowed time off for jury duty. Since he's a shift worker who works in the middle of the night, he'd have to work all night and serve on the jury all day. His union’s collective bargaining rules say employees must get time off during working hours. 

“In this particular case unfortunately the supervisor took a very literal read of what our rules say and said unfortunately we can't give you leave for that time period,” said Kendall Dodson, King County human resources manager. 

KIRO 7 spoke with Jefferson, who said he couldn’t comment since his union was working it out with King County human resources. 

It didn't become a legal issue because Jefferson was dismissed from jury selection and Grant pleaded guilty. 

Dodson says Jefferson’s supervisor should have been more flexible. The King County human resources department is looking over collective bargaining agreements to change the wording. 

“I think more importantly we'll do some coaching with managers and HR staff in these situations,” said Hodson.  “To say we need to be more flexible and figure out how to solve the problem for the employee.”