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Labor & Employment

Motel-sex injury doesn’t merit workers’ compensation, Australian high court rules

Posted Oct 30, 2013 11:09 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A government worker injured during motel sex on a business trip is not entitled to workers' compensation, Australia’s highest court has ruled.

The High Court of Australia ruled the woman was not entitled to compensation because the injury did not occur in the course of employment. How Appealing links to the ruling and to stories by the Canberra Times, the Age of Melbourne and the Australian. The Telegraph and the Associated Press also have stories.

The relevant question when an employee is injured during an activity between periods of actual work is whether the employer induced or encourage the activity, according to the opinion. In this case, the court said, there was no inducement or encouragement.

The woman was injured in 2007 when she or her companion pulled a glass-light fitting from its mount above the bed during the sexual encounter, the court said. She sought compensation from government insurer Comcare, arguing that she was at the motel because of the business trip, so that the injuries occurred during the course of employment.

The result would be different, the court said, if the light fixture had been insecurely fashioned and simply fell on the woman. In that case, the woman’s employer would be responsible for the injury because she was required to be at the motel for the work trip.

A lower appellate court had allowed compensation.

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