By: Michael Seinberg
Business travelers round the world are wearing black armbands today thanks to a ruling by an Australian court. No more frequent flyer miles? No free drinks in flight? No more hotel discounts? No, actually, no more employer supported sex.
In 2007 an Australian government worker was sent on an overnight trip that included being booked into a hotel room by her employer. As part of her post work relaxation period, she brought a friend back to her room and they proceeded to engage in some very athletic lovemaking. At some point during this interlude, a light fixture was torn from the ceiling and hit our hard working government employee in the face. While we’re not sure what happened to her partner, the incident landed her in the hospital with injuries to her mouth and nose. She also suffered psychological wounds, she said, that forced her to quit her job (it was later diagnosed as acute embarrassment).
She applied for workman’s compensation and was initially awarded said compensation. But when the source of her injury came out, the award was pulled. She sued, arguing that as she was on an employer-sanctioned trip in an employer booked hotel, she should be covered.
Her employer argued that her workout routine was out of the normal routine for a government employee on state business and thus, should not be covered. Obviously a post-work workout means different things to different people. In any case, her attorney suggested she was being unfairly targeted for having sex as opposed to using a treadmill or playing cards, both equally legitimate relaxation methods after work hours.
After the dust cleared, the court ruled that it was not reasonable to expect an employer to be responsible for the actions of an employee 24/7 when on business. Had she simply slipped and fallen in the shower, that might have been fine (had she been alone in the shower at the time) but having athletic sex was out of the bounds of what an employer should be expected to have to cover. Thankfully she didn’t engage in car racing, bungie jumping or poisonous snake wrestling. That could have been truly messy.
Businesses and government agencies breathed a collective sigh of relief at this ruling and frequent business travelers shed a tear or two before looking into special travel insurance policies that would cover future athletic endeavors. Hotels, meanwhile, were said to be looking into reinforcing light fixtures.