Australia's High Court has rejected a 30-year old former government employee’s workers’ compensation claim filed after she was injured when a glass ceiling fixture fell on her while she was having sex on a business trip at a motel recommended by her employer back in 2007.
According to the report, she suffered injuries to her face and mouth and was hospitalized as a result of the accident. She later suffered from severe depression which prevented her from continuing to work for the government.
Although a lower court has ruled in her favor, High Court justices Robert French, Kenneth Hayne, Susan Crennan and Susan Kiefel found that since her employer did not induce or encourage her to participate in the sex, the federal government's insurer, Comcare, was not liable to compensate her.” Two other judges dissented.
While Comcare had approved the claim when originally submitted, they later withdrew it upon further investigation when an administrative tribunal agreed that her injuries were “not suffered in the course of her employment, nor was she induced or encouraged the woman's sexual conduct.” They also found the sex was "not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay," such as showering, sleeping or eating.”
However, Federal Court Judge John Nichols later overturned that decision last year, when he rejected the tribunal's insistence that the her sexual behavior “had to be condoned by the government if she were to qualify for compensation.”
"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," Nicholas wrote then.
Despite the past wrangling, the High Court’s ruling is the one that now stands, and could have major consequences for all other federal employees in Australia who seek compensation for “unconventional work-related mishaps.”