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Australian Bureaucrat Injures Self During Sexual Encounter on Work Trip...And Court Grants Her Worker's Comp

"If the applicant had been injured while playing a game of cards in her motel room, she would be entitled to compensation..."

(Photo: Martin Lehmann/Shutterstock)

(Photo: Martin Lehmann/Shutterstock)

(TheBlaze/AP) -- An Australian court has ruled that a bureaucrat who was injured while having sex on a business trip is eligible for worker's compensation benefits.

The Full Bench of the Federal Court ruled Dec. 13 in favor of the woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, rejecting the appeal of the federal government's insurer.

The woman was hospitalized after being injured in 2007 during sex with a male friend while staying in a motel in the town of Nowra, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of her hometown of Sydney.

During the encounter, a glass light fitting was torn from its mount above the bed and landed on her face, injuring her nose and mouth. She later suffered depression and was reportedly unable to continue working for the government.

Her claim for worker's compensation for her physical and psychological injuries was initially approved by government insurer Comcare, then rejected after further investigation.

An administrative tribunal agreed with Comcare that her injuries were not suffered in the course of her employment, saying the government had not induced or encouraged the woman's sexual conduct. The tribunal also found that the act was "not an ordinary incident of an overnight stay" like showering, sleeping and eating.

But Judge John Nicholas overturned the ruling earlier in 2012, writing: "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."

In the Full Bench decision upholding Nicholas' decision, Judges Patrick Keane, Robert Buchanan and Mordy Bromberg agreed last week that the government's views on the woman having sex in her motel room were irrelevant.

"No approval, express or implied, of the respondent's conduct was required," they said.

It is not yet clear how much compensation the woman-- who was in her 30s at the time of the incident-- will receive.

Comcare was on Monday considering an appeal to the High Court, Australia's highest legal authority, Comcare spokesman Russ Street said.

"The issue is a significant one," Street said in a statement. "Workers need to be clear about their entitlements and employers should have an understanding of their responsibilities and how to support their staff."

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