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20 Sep 2019 9:12
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  •   Home > News > International

    A Frenchman died during sex on a work trip — and now his employer is being held liable

    A French company is held legally responsible for the death of one of its engineers, despite its protestation that the man's fatal heart attack occurred while he was engaged in "an extramarital relationship with a perfect stranger".

    A French railway services company is being held liable for the death of one of its engineers, who died while having sex on a business trip.

    The man, known only as Xavier X, went into cardiac arrest while having sex in a hotel in central France in 2013, the BBC reported.

    The state health insurance provider reportedly labelled the incident a workplace accident, and in 2016 a court agreed, ruling that sex was considered "an act of normal life, like taking a shower or eating a meal".

    Mr X's employer, TSO, challenged the decision and said his death was the result of "an extramarital relationship with a perfect stranger".

    TSO also argued Mr X was not in the hotel room it had organised for him.

    According to media reports, the company told the Paris appeals court it should not be held liable for his death because it "occurred when he had knowingly interrupted his work for a reason solely dictated by his personal interest, independent of his employment".

    But the court disagreed and ruled the man's family should receive compensation.

    According to the BBC, the judges determined any employee on a business trip was entitled to protection "over the whole time of his mission".

    The ruling means Mr X's family will be entitled to benefits from both the state and TSO, amounting to a monthly payment of up to 80 per cent of his salary until the year he would have been eligible to enter retirement, and a contribution towards his pension after his retirement year.

    The ruling rests upon a decision 10 years ago when French courts ruled that any deaths, injuries or accidents suffered by employees on work trips were an "accident du travail".

    The exception would be if the worker intentionally left his or her work for personal reasons — which TSO unsuccessfully argued had happened.

    This follows a 2017 case where a French court found a company liable for an injury to a businessman's hand even though the injury had been sustained at 2:00am in a Chinese disco.

    In contrast, in 2013 an Australian public servant had a compensation claim dismissed over an injury sustained while having sex in a country New South Wales hotel room while on a work trip.

    She claimed that during the 2007 trip, a light fitting dislodged and hit her in the face, injuring her nose, mouth and a tooth and causing a psychiatric adjustment disorder.

    A Federal Court judge agreed with her that the injury had occurred on a work trip, in the hotel room organised for her by her employer, and that she did not need to prove her injury had been caused by an activity "implied" or "encouraged" by her employer.

    Workplace safety body ComCare disagreed, saying people needed to eat, sleep and attend to their personal hygiene but "you don't need to have sex".

    The High Court upheld ComCare's appeal, ruling the injury had happened after hours.


    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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