Jane Trejo-Beverly, an employee at a Naples, Fla. real estate company, was fired by her employer just over a week before Christmas when she was summoned to serve jury duty.
Trejo-Beverly, 49, told Naples News that she was at her office holiday party when she learned she had to serve jury duty the next day. According to Trejo-Beverly, she immediately texted her direct supervisor, Dawn Norgren, at Island Title 5 Star Agency in addition to emails sent to several other supervisors, notifying them that she was summoned and will keep them updated on whether or not she was selected.
I immediately texted my office manager and said I have to report to jury duty at 8:30, then said I'd follow up with an email, she said. Her supervisor responded the next morning to say she was aware.
However, while Trejo-Beverly was in the jury room for a two-day misdemeanor battery trial, she received a voicemail that she had been fired.
Things just are not working so I want to terminate our relationship, Norgren said in the voicemail. I'm sorry you had to be out of the office this morning and you didn't tell us.
I hung up and burst into tears, Trejo-Beverly told Naples News. She reportedly was approached by a clerk at the Collier Courthouse who instructed her to speak to the judge.
The owner of Island Title real estate, Robert Leeber, told Naples news the allegations were incorrect, adding that 15 employees over the years had served jury duty and were paid. Leeber said that Trejo-Beverly was demoted during a training period after she accepted the job on Nov. 14 and was fired during a probationary period. Leeber also said that he, nor anyone else, was never informed about her jury duty obligations. The lawsuit, however, included evidence of emails, texts, and voicemail messages received and sent by Trejo-Beverly.
On Friday, Trejo-Beverly filed a lawsuit against Island Title 5 Star Agency, citing it violated laws in her firing. According to Naples News, it is against the law in Florida to terminate or threaten to terminate an employee for serving jury duty.
This is the heart of the jury system, her attorney Bernard Mazaheri told Naples News. If jurors are afraid to serve on juries because they'll lose their jobs, we're not going to have trials.
What this employer did was unspeakable - and hiding behind a probationary period is a pretext, he added. There was no indication she'd be fired. She even went to the holiday party the night before.
However, the real estate company maintains that Trejo-Beverly was not fired for serving jury duty but rather for performance issues.
We would never do that, Leeber told Naples News about firing an employee for jury duty. It's not fair for an employee because it's their obligation. There's more to this than meets the eye here. It will all come out because of the lawsuit.
Jane Trejo-Beverly's supervisor, Dawn Norgren, faces misdemeanor charges, for which she pled not guilty. Norgren will return to court on Jan. 20.