A story out of France has burned up the wires this week, and it is one that caught the attention of the US workers' compensation industry. And for some reason, it seems people thought it is something I would want to write about. No less than four of my co-workers and associates forwarded the story to me, no doubt thinking it dovetails perfectly with the avantgarde nature of this blog.
And they would be right. God bless them all, sick bastards that they are.
A court in France has just determined that the death of a man, who suffered a fatal heart attack while having sex with a stranger on a business trip, was indeed a workplace accident. His employer has been ordered to pay benefits in the case. They will have to pay 80% of his salary to his wife and family for what would have been the remainder of his life up to retirement. Maybe it should have been for the remainder of his life up until his wife found out about the affair. That would have been a much shorter period. But then again, this is France we're talking about, and everyone there retires around the age of 40, so maybe not.
French courts apparently determined over a decade ago that any accident suffered on work trips amounts to an 'accident du travail'. I don't speak the language, but I assume 'accident du travail' is French for “dying while boffing a stranger in an adulterous hookup while on the road.”
The man's employer is based in France, and while the French, who are not particularly known for mounting a strong defense against, well, anything, the company did in this case try to object to this particular decision. An earlier court had awarded benefits to the man's family, and upon appeal a superior court affirmed the decision. The man's employer had argued that they should not be liable, as the employee's death "occurred when he had knowingly interrupted his work for a reason solely dictated by his personal interest, independent of his employment" and that it didn't have anything to do with his work performance. Instead, they argued, that it was a "sexual act he had with a complete stranger" in a hotel room other than the one in which he was placed by the company. For some odd reason they didn't think this was their responsibility.
That is very French of them, although it is nice to find something on which we can finally all (with the exception of the French courts) agree.
The man was an engineer for a railway construction firm. One of my associates in the office suggested I title this article, “I've Been Boinking on the Railroad,” but I thought better of it. Besides being a potentially offensive title in its own right, if you think about the lyrics of the referenced song in relation to this story, it gets pretty ugly fairly quickly. Especially if the guy's paramour was named Dinah.
Still, it was a funny suggestion, and for that, Ritchie, you are officially “Employee of the Day.” Congratulations. There is no financial reward for the honor, but you can take the weekend off.
The court in its decision said that an accident during a business trip is simply compensable, period. It doesn't matter if it happens on work or personal time, unless the employer can prove their employee "interrupted his mission" solely for personal reasons. I am no French legal eagle, but it sure sounds like this guys train had already left the station regarding his work responsibilities for the day. In fact, this train was in another room entirely. I don't know how having sex with a stranger in a room other than your own could be construed as anything other than “personal reasons.” At least that is my train of thought.
The court also made the observation that sexual activity "is a matter of everyday life, like taking a shower or a meal." I would note most people eat three meals a day. It's no wonder these people can't win a world war. They are clearly preoccupied.
And it's pretty obvious that the French justices aren't married in America.
This story is not too dissimilar from one that occurred in Australia several years back. In that case, a woman who was traveling for her government agency employer was injured during sex with what was described as a “friend' she met in a bar. The amorous couple apparently pulled or knocked a light fixture off the wall during their aggressively passionate interlude, striking her in the face and injuring her. While benefits were originally awarded in her case, the Australian Supreme Court eventually reversed the decision and terminated benefits.
She clearly should have gone to work in France. I don't know if the sex would be any better, but she, like our wayward engineer, would be able to die with a compensable smile on her face.
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.
Bob has a couple unique personality characteristics. He firmly believes that everyone has the right to his (Bob's) opinion, and while he may not always be right, he is never in doubt. Enter at your own risk, and like all of our blog areas, we encourage you to read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page.
We're not responsible for this guy.....
Bob is an accomplished speaker for the workers' compensation industry. He is available for conferences, corporate events, children's birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. You may access his Speakers Brief here.