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The Case of the Millennial Juror

February 25, 2015

Reprinted from DRI Labor & Employment Law Blog

As Employment Litigators, we are always mindful of the varied perspectives, cultural backgrounds and potential biases that individuals may bring with them to the jury box, and later, to their deliberations. This is particularly true today when individual perspectives are shaped so drastically by social media and the 24-hour news cycle. I recently came across an article entitled “Your Jury Box In the 21st Century”[1] that provided great insight into the mind of a very specific type of juror – the oft terror-inducing “Millennial Juror.”

The article discussed many things that challenged my “Gen X” perception of Millennials. The Millennial is described as a 20-something, tech-savvy, team-oriented individual. The notion that Millennials are all still living a spoiled life at home with mom and dad is debunked. Though this may be true for some, most Millennials are described as being independent, but dealing with less economic security than their previous generations.

Most concerning, however, is that based on trial analysis, juror research and opinion studies, the article describes Millennials as having strong anti-corporate beliefs stemming from their experiences with Enron, the banking crisis, BP Oil Spill, etc. Further, there is a high unemployment rate for Millennials, who have toiled away at school for years, only to find an oversaturated and under sourced job market. Along with this, studies have indicated that millennial jurors tend to favor higher damages awards against corporate defendants.

Thus, it important to understand the general perspectives of millennial jurors, and to work on themes that counteract the impact that their prior experiences may have. According to the article, Millennials appreciate details and information in a linear format. This is also consistent with presenting evidence to Baby Boomers, who favor storytelling and timelines.

As with any juror, the millennial juror is not one to be feared but rather understood. The fact that Millennials will make up an ever-increasing share of our jury boxes requires employment litigators to confront their biases with clear analysis and details regarding the case. We should not discount their perspectives and the experiences they have had with corporations and the economy. If we do, we risk exposing our clients to the ire of the millennial juror, and potentially, a higher damages award.

[1] Larry Beemer, Dave Zehner, Mark Worischeck, Dan Longo & Sarah Pacini, Your Jury Box in the 21st Century: Getting to Know and Manage the Millennial Juror, Litigation Management, Fall, 2014 at pg. 28