To protect employers from frivolous lawsuits and encourage open, honest communication, Georgia’s unemployment compensation law blocks people from suing their former employers over what the organization says during an unemployment compensation hearing.
The law gives absolute immunity for employers’ testimony at those hearings. This helps prevent frivolous lawsuits, such as those often filed over negative references.
Recent case: When RTM fired Jimmy Lawal, he didn’t waste much time before filing a frivolous lawsuit. Apparently, he couldn’t even find an attorney willing to take his case, since he represented himself.
Among his many claims, Lawal told the court that RTM employees had lied about him at his unemployment compensation hearing to avoid paying him benefits.
The court dismissed the case, explaining that anything an employer says during an unemployment compensation hearing can’t be used later in a libel suit. It dismissed the rest of his frivolous claims, too, including conspiracy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Lawal v. RTM, No. 06-12250, 11th Cir., 2006)
Final tip: Of course, you should always be honest when testifying. The law is meant to protect you from frivolous lawsuits, not outright perjury. If the hearing officers detect a pattern of lying, you could face judicial sanctions.