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Employee Liability

It is typically the State of Georgia, the Board of Regents and/or Georgia College, not the individual employee, named as the defendant in a lawsuit involving University activity. On rare occasions, individual employees are named as defendants in their official capacity. In these instances, the lawsuit is actually against the State and University System. In such cases, the State of Georgia will usually defend the lawsuit and pay any damages that may be awarded.

In some cases, however, an attempt is made to sue an employee in his or her individual capacity. In these cases, the person bringing the lawsuit is seeking money damages directly from the individual. Georgia law provides significant protection against individual employee liability and generally shields employees from individual liability. In order to sue an employee in his or her individual capacity under Georgia law, the lawsuit must allege that the employee acted manifestly outside the scope of employment responsibilities, or with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner.

The State of Georgia Attorney General's Office will conduct an investigation to determine whether the employee should be indemnified. If the investigation determines that the employee was not acting manifestly outside the scope of his or her employment responsibilities, or with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner, indemnification will be recommended.

Legal representation and indemnification will not, however, be provided in civil actions in which the State of Georgia is the party bringing the lawsuit against the employee. In exceptional circumstances, the State of Georgia may seek to recover money personally from an employee. These circumstances generally arise under laws that impose personal liability for financial misconduct.  For example, if an employee illegally expends public funds, fails to collect money due, fails to account for public funds or misappropriates or converts public money for their own use, the State may seek reimbursement. The law also imposes personal liability on employees who, without authority, enter into contracts to pay money on behalf of the University. If an employee is sued in his or her individual capacity on a claim arising under federal law, the law of another state, or of a foreign jurisdiction, the employee is generally entitled to have the State of Georgia provide legal counsel and pay any judgment or settlement of the claim. The Georgia Attorney General's Office is responsible for determining whether an employee is entitled to legal counsel to defend the suit. Legal counsel will not be provided if the employee was acting manifestly outside his or her employment responsibilities, or with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner.

* This Report is for informational purposes only. Any question regarding indemnity or immunity must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Contact the Office of Legal Affairs if you are sued in your individual capacity or receive notice of a potential legal claim for acts related to your employment with GC.

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