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12-09-2019

Frenchman who died during sex on a business trip was victim of 'workplace accident', court rules

The employee died in a hotel room while having sex with a 'complete stranger'. Photo: AFP

A French court has ruled that an employee who died while having sex on a business trip was the victim of a workplace accident.

The safety technician had been sent to Loiret in north west France on a business trip and while there ended up having sex with a "complete stranger".

During the act he had a heart attack and died, and his employer - the construction specialists TSO - argued that because the liaison was not part of his work, and because he died in a different hotel room to the one which had been reserved for him, it should not be held liable for his death, reported BFMTV.

The company told a previous court hearing in Meaux, to the east of Paris, that the death had "occurred when he had knowingly interrupted his work for a reason solely dictated by his personal interest, independent of his employment", and that as a result he was no longer on a business trip.

Moreover, the death is not attributable to the performance of his work "but to the sexual act he had with a complete stranger".

However the case has now been heard by the Court of Appeal in Paris, which ruled against the company, saying that the employee did indeed die of a workplace accident (accident du travail).

The Paris Court of Appeal argues that "an employee performing a business trip is entitled to the protection provided by Article L 411-1 of the Social Security Code throughout the duration of the trip he performs for his employer".

In other words it does not matter whether the accident occurs during a professional or everyday act unless the employer has proof that the employee interrupted his mission for a personal reason.

The judges point out that sexual intercourse is a part of everyday life.

The fact that the accident occurred in a place other than the hotel room reserved for him by TSO did not make it possible to consider that the employee had placed himself outside the sphere of the employer's authority.

The incident was therefore recognised as a workplace accident.

Because of the unusual nature of the ruling, and the potential liability for employers, the case is likely to be referred to the Cour de Cassation, France's highest judicial court, said Sarah Balluet, a lawyer specialising in labour law, in her LinkedIn article on the case.

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