worker’s comp for unsafe sex

Injuries from sex, playing cards are compensable says Australian court.

On Dec. 13, 2012, the Full Bench of the Federal Court ruled in favor of a former government employee who was injured while having sex on a business trip. The incident took place in 2007 in the town of Nowra, New South Wales (Australia). The woman was hospitalized and treated for injuries sustained while having sex with a male friend in her motel room. She subsequently filed a claim for worker’s compensation.

From the Associated Press article by Rod McGuirk:

During the sex, a glass light fitting was torn from its mount above the bed and landed on her face, injuring her nose and mouth. She later suffered depression and was unable to continue working for the government.

Her claim for worker’s compensation for her physical and psychological injuries was initially approved by government insurer Comcare, then rejected after further investigation.

An administrative tribunal agreed with Comcare that her injuries were not suffered in the course of her employment, saying the government had not induced or encouraged the woman’s sexual conduct. The tribunal also found the sex was “not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay” such as showering, sleeping and eating.

I must pause to interject a few linguistic observations:

During the sex, …

You don’t see “the sex” all that often. Usually it’s just “sex.” I would probably start that sentence off with “During sex.” Leave it to the Associated Press to squeeze in an unnecessary article

…a glass light fitting was torn from its mount

I’m not sure whether there’s another way to phrase this, but when describing sexual accidents, use of the word “mount” is…well…I guess it ups the t-factor.

…in the course of her employment …

Sounds like “intercourse of her employment.” I guess that’s the debate here: was this intercourse of her employment? or just intercourse?

The tribunal also found the sex was “not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay” …

Ah, here’s where the definite article “the” comes into play. The tribunal didn’t find that sex, per se, is “not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay,” only that this particular sex, THE sex in question, was not “ordinary.” So we’ve learned that this was not ordinary sex, and that it involved a glass fitting being “torn from its mount.” I wonder if they had diagrams for the jury, because I’m having a hard time visualizing this.

… such as showering, sleeping and eating.

Euphemistically, she was “sleeping with” her male friend. I hope her attorney pointed that out in the appeal.

OK, back to the story. The tribunal ruled against the woman.

On appeal, however, the Federal Court overturned the tribunal’s findings that the sex had to be condoned by the government if she were to qualify for compensation. Judge John Nicholas explained in his decision:

“If the applicant had been injured while playing a game of cards in her motel room, she would be entitled to compensation even though it could not be said that her employer induced her to engage in such activity.”

closing thoughts

I think everyone is missing the point here. There was a lot of back-and-forth about whether or not the government approved of the woman having sex on a business trip.

How much has been spent on this legal battle? If the government had, instead, spent its time and resources educating its employees on safe sex, this might not have ever happened.

Because, if nothing else, this sex was definitely not safe.