In some Georgia workers’ compensation cases, the question of whether an individual is an employee under the workers’ compensation act is not so clear. In a recent case, one state’s supreme court considered whether a student teacher was entitled to benefits despite not being paid for her position.
The student teacher was in the process of obtaining her teacher’s license, which required she complete 12 weeks of student teaching. She was enrolled in a school that placed her in a classroom four days a week. She was required to submit an application for student teaching. The school principal and the classroom teacher were ultimately responsible for selecting the student teacher. The title of the position was referred to in various capacities as student teacher, intern, and preservice teacher. The student teacher was required to work the same hours as the mentor teacher and to attend staff meetings and school activities. She had a school identification car, school email address, and keys to the school, but she was not allowed to compose any documents that would become part of a student’s record.
The student teacher slipped and fell while at work, injuring her back, hip, and leg, and filed for workers’ compensation benefits. The school argued that she was not an employee and was not entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation judge decided she was not an employee within the meaning of the workers’ compensation act, primarily since she was not paid for her work at the school.