Monday, January 21, 2008

Say it ain't so

If true, this is, of course, a huge no-no. I hope for HEB's sake that is not what they did.

As I said many times before, jury duty is direct participation in our form of government, akin to voting, it should not be abridged.

Juror in lengthy Holy Land trial sues H-E-B grocery store over firing
H-E-B says 17-year worker's firing wasn't related to lengthy trial

By JASON TRAHAN / The Dallas Morning News

A former Holy Land Foundation juror filed a federal lawsuit Friday against a grocery store that she claims fired her because she was missing work to serve in the three-month terrorism trial.
Kristina Williams, 49, is seeking lost wages and her job back after she was fired in early August from the H-E-B store in Waxahachie, where she had worked for 17 years. Her termination came about two weeks into testimony in the trial, in which organizers of a Muslim charity formerly based in Richardson were accused of raising millions of dollars for the terrorist group Hamas.

After her firing, Mrs. Williams told the trial judge, U.S. District Judge A. Joe Fish, that store management claimed she stole a 99-cent salad, which she said she intended to pay for.
Firing someone who misses work to serve on a jury is illegal. Judge Fish appointed employment lawyer Kenneth Molberg to look into the allegations, resulting in Friday's lawsuit.
Leslie Lockett, an H-E-B spokeswoman, said Friday that the company encourages its employees "to fulfill their civic duty."

"Anytime we have ... [an employee] on any type of civic duty, we support them with continued pay and time away from the store," she said, adding that until she was fired, Mrs. Williams continued to receive her salary while on the jury.
"Mrs. Williams' separation from H-E-B is in no way related to her jury duty commitments," she said.

In the lawsuit, Mrs. Williams said she was fired from her job shortly after she told her bosses that the trial was expected to last up to four months. She worked at the customer service counter at H-E-B.

Mrs. Williams said Friday that her termination was "unfair because I was fired for serving on the jury. It's now in the judge's hands."

Mr. Molberg said his client has been living off savings since losing her job Aug. 2.

Mrs. Williams remained on the Holy Land jury until the case collapsed in late October. It was her last-minute reversal on several not-guilty verdicts that forced the judge to declare a mistrial on nearly all counts. Prosecutors say they intend to retry the case in front of a new jury.