Compensability for Sexual Thunder Blunder Down Under Cast Asunder
Even though my friend, Alabama Attorney Mike Fish, beat me to the punch with this morning's missive on our Blogwire, I simply had to weigh in. After all, I had a great deal to say about this when it happened last year, and regular readers would surely expect me to follow up with my special analysis (which, by the way, may be easily equated to the concept of "special needs").
An Australian woman who was awarded workers' compensation benefits after injuring herself during sex while on a business trip has lost her ultimate battle in that country's High Court. She had met a "friend" in a bar while on the road for her government agency employer. She invited said "friend" back to her motel room, where they reportedly engaged in various amorous activities. Apparently an athletic couple, someone pulled or otherwise dislodged a light fixture from the wall during these intense negotiations, which caused it to fall and strike her on the face, injuring her nose and lip. She also claims to have become quite depressed over the entire ordeal.
Comcare, the carrier handling her case, initially accepted the claim, then denied it upon further investigation (as soon as they could stop laughing and compose themselves). She appealed and won, with the residing Federal Court judge saying that being injured during sex while on a trip for the benefit of her employer was no different than if she had been injured playing cards in her hotel room. I am not sure what kind of card games that judge plays, but I would be certain to decline any invitation to his house for a round of bridge.
At any rate, common sense does indeed exist down under, as the Australian High Court overturned our card dealing judge, and declared the woman's claim non-compensable. The tribunal, in a 4-1 decision, found that the sexual intercourse was not in the course and scope of her employment, and that the employer had not encouraged or required her to engage in that activity. They also found that casual coitus was "not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay".
I'll say. As a well traveled middle aged married man who several years ago discovered he has a "favorite chair", I can assure you it is virtually non-existent. The only stranger likely to come to my hotel room late at night is the Papa John's deliveryman. And a cash tip is all that guy is getting out of me.
I am sure I will be criticized by some for capitalizing on the sexual nature of this story. I am often called childish and immature, as well as misogynistic and hateful for discussing these types of topics. I respectfully disagree. I am a mature man commenting on the events of the day. Besides, she is the one who filed and pursued the idiotic claim, and in so doing made herself fair game.
So there. (Which may be interpreted as the more colloquial albeit outdated “Neener-neener” or “Nanny Nanny Boo Boo”)
Comcare, which declined to say how much it has already paid in benefits, is considering whether to pursue collection of those funds. That could be unfortunate for our story's subject. She could be inadvertently demonstrating that by getting injured during sex on a business trip, one could really end up being screwed.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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