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Is libel or slander covered under workers’ comp?

Recently, the firm addressed a question where an Atlanta employer allegedly made libelous or slanderous comments about an employee who was recently hurt on the job.  There was no question that the employee injured his back in a trucking accident in Gwinnett County.  The employee was subsequently terminated because of the accident.   A few weeks later the Employee reports that he has “heard” from other employees that the supervisor made numerous unflattering comments about the injured employee.

The issue becomes whether the injured employee could advance a claim for libel or slander against the Atlanta employer under his workers’ compensation claim.  The short answer is “no.”  The Court of Appeals has held that libel, slander, and intentional infliction of emotional distress are not compensable under Georgia’s workers’ compensation act as these harms could not be considered “physical injuries.”  For more information, see Oliver v. Wal-Mart, Inc., 209 Ga. App. 703 (1993).  While the claim may not be covered under the workers’ compensation system, the action may survive a filing in another court or jurisdiction.

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