American Business Travelers (Unlike the French) Can't Collect for Sex-Related Injuries

By Richard Dahl on October 01, 2019

A recent court ruling in France underscores just how blasé that country is about sex.

After a French business traveler died of a heart attack while having sex with a stranger, the country’s national health insurance provider claimed that the death was work-related. Seeking to get the man’s employer to pay a share of the benefits paid to the family, the insurer argued that sex with strangers on a business trip is a normal activity, “like taking a shower or a meal.”

A court in Paris agreed, saying that the company had to share in the cost because employers are required to cover costs related to any deaths or injuries on business trips no matter what the circumstances are.

If you’re an American, it is understandable at this point if you wish to take a moment to ponder what life must be like in a nation where sex with strangers is as routine as having lunch.

When you’re done, it might be instructive to think about what the rules are in your own country when you take a business trip. You won’t be compensated for injuries related to casual sex, but what other kinds of injuries are compensable?

Activity in the ‘Best Interest’ of the Employer

In the U.S., most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, which helps employees recover lost wages if they sustain a work-related injury. When an employee is injured on a business trip, however, it can often be difficult to determine whether it was work-related.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees the state workers’ compensation programs, defines a work-related business-trip injury as one that occurs when the employee is engaged in work activities that are “in the best interest of the employer.”

OSHA says the duration of the business trip extends from the time when the employee leaves their home or workplace to the time they return home. But, OSHA says, if the employee is injured while taking a side trip for personal reasons, the employer is not responsible.

Clear enough. But what, exactly, qualifies as a side trip?

In the case of Barbara Pinkus v. Hartford Casualty Insurance Co., a Texas court ruled that a man who died from injuries he sustained in a car accident while on a business trip wasn’t in the course of his employment when it happened because he was driving to meet his son for dinner.

But in a different scenario provided by OSHA, if an employee driving home from the airport after a business trip decides to take a slight detour from his normal route to buy food and flowers for his wife at a convenience store and then is injured on his drive home, the accident would be considered work-related and compensable.

Best Not to Stray

What about business-related social functions? Here, the record suggests that business travelers may indeed recreate, but shouldn’t stray far from the expected path.

In 2013, a Maryland court ruled that injuries that a man sustained while dancing in a night club were compensable because the accident occurred within the same hotel where the man was staying for his business trip and was “reasonably incident to travel.”

A Florida court, however, ruled that a flight attendant who sustained a fractured leg while skiing 58 miles from his hotel during a layover could not recover compensation from his employer.

Thus, if you want to be covered for any injuries that might befall you on a business trip, it’s best to stick to the designated course and make sure your activities are reasonably “within the course of employment.”

Unlike in France, if you want to have consensual sex with strangers, you’re pretty much on your own.

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