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Thread: French company liable after employee dies during extra-marital sex with stranger on business trip

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    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    I don’t see the point of discussing legalities. It would seem (if this judgement is correct and upheld) that the legalities are clear and should have been understood beforehand. That said, the other case regarding the basketball player may suggest they are not clear. That the company disagreed with the OP claim also suggests they felt it was not clear cut.

    But anyway, saying something is right and fair and reasonable and moral or ethical ‘because it is the law’ is not an interesting discussion to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post

    I have to say it makes no sense to me in this particular case. The employer sending him on a business trip arguably had nothing, in terms of responsibility, to do with his decision to engage in what was risky behaviour on his own behalf outside working hours. What, for example, if the guy had died during a dodgy asphyxiation sex game?
    French law says that, as his presence in that city was due to his employer requiring him to go there, they are liable. It doesn't make any distinction between different misadventures that could befall him, and his employer knew that. Essentially it's just a risk imposed on their business - they are effectively being required to insure their employees' lives while those employees are diverted from their normal lives by the requirements of their work.

    I am not convinced that it's the best approach to take, but nor does it seem unreasonable or unjust - it's part of the law, and the employer should be aware that it is a risk they are liable for.

    It's interesting to me that people seem to think that death during sex, or due to sex games, is somehow fundamentally different from other death by misadventure. It isn't, and I don't see why it should be. If he had decided to take a hot air balloon trip and fallen from the basket, the employer would also have been liable - and the case would have been no different in any substantive sense - but it probably wouldn't have made the news outside France. Sex sells newspapers.

    The principle that the employer is liable for misadventure of all kinds while employees are on business trips is arbitrary, and can lead to some odd outcomes. But it is no more arbitrary than any alternative legal principle; And it is perfectly reasonable, as long as all parties are aware of the liabilities and risks that they are taking on. It assuredly does NOT imply that the employer should or could have a say in the choice of lawful activities employees might engage in while 'off the clock' on a business trip.
    It's interesting to me that people seem to think that death during sex, or due to sex games, is somehow fundamentally different from other death by misadventure
    Opposition to this particular French law, and/or its application to these facts, isn’t based substantively on the kind of “misadventure.” The objection is essentially, the kind of misadventure doesn’t matter. If the misadventure isn’t part of his specific duties and responsibilities as an employee, then the company shouldn’t be liable if he suffered a coronary event while plugging some woman in the town in which he has a work related event 24 hours later.

    I am not convinced that it's the best approach to take, but nor does it seem unreasonable or unjust - it's part of the law, and the employer should be aware that it is a risk they are liable for.... The principle that the employer is liable for misadventure of all kinds while employees are on business trips is arbitrary, and can lead to some odd outcomes. But it is no more arbitrary than any alternative legal principle; And it is perfectly reasonable, as long as all parties are aware of the liabilities and risks that they are taking on.
    So what if the legal principle at issue is arbitrary, as arbitrary any other. Arbitrary legal principles, in terms of substance, are not equal. It is the substance of this legal principle people are objecting to as unreasonable. They have a fair point.

    The objections to this French law, well to be accurate your representations of the law, is the law lacks a reasonable limit on causation, specifically the law lacks a proper causation for purposes of drawing liability. Yes, the cause for the employee to be in the town was the company sent him to that town to perform and engage in job related activities (assuming he’s not a male porn actor). But the cause of his injury wasn’t related to being in town, but his choice to plug some woman while having a medical condition that put him at risk of having a cardiac event. The objection to the law is the imposition of liability to an entity that isn’t the cause of the injury, the result, or outcome.

    And the substance of the law isn’t rendered reasonable on the basis all parties have acquiesced to the risk and liabilities imposed by the law. It’s possible the law is unreasonable and that all parties have acquiesced to an unreasonable law and its imposition of risks and liabilities.


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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Are you choosing the proper cause? Seems to me that the presence of the person in the town is the responsibility of the company. I'm pretty sure his location is critical in finding cause.

    As you noted he could have had that attack anywhere. Is company or employee responsible ascertaining condition to properly determine risk to person on travel? Is that actually relevant? If employee and company by sending employee mutually assume he is not at risk of heart attack while on travel it seems to me that responsibility presumed by state is the correct presumption.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Are you choosing the proper cause? Seems to me that the presence of the person in the town is the responsibility of the company. I'm pretty sure his location is critical in finding cause.

    As you noted he could have had that attack anywhere. Is company or employee responsible ascertaining condition to properly determine risk to person on travel? Is that actually relevant? If employee and company by sending employee mutually assume he is not at risk of heart attack while on travel it seems to me that responsibility presumed by state is the correct presumption.
    Yeah, as with basically all worker-protection measures it can backfire. If a company thinks someone might keel over they're not going to want to send them on a business trip.

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren Pechtel View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Are you choosing the proper cause? Seems to me that the presence of the person in the town is the responsibility of the company. I'm pretty sure his location is critical in finding cause.

    As you noted he could have had that attack anywhere. Is company or employee responsible ascertaining condition to properly determine risk to person on travel? Is that actually relevant? If employee and company by sending employee mutually assume he is not at risk of heart attack while on travel it seems to me that responsibility presumed by state is the correct presumption.
    Yeah, as with basically all worker-protection measures it can backfire. If a company thinks someone might keel over they're not going to want to send them on a business trip.
    How's that a backfire? If a company thinks someone might keel over, they shouldn't be employing them on any kind of business. They should be sending them to a doctor, on paid medical leave. (And in France, such paid leave is likely to be a legal requirement for any employee who has been with the company for a few months).

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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Are you choosing the proper cause? Seems to me that the presence of the person in the town is the responsibility of the company. I'm pretty sure his location is critical in finding cause.

    As you noted he could have had that attack anywhere. Is company or employee responsible ascertaining condition to properly determine risk to person on travel? Is that actually relevant? If employee and company by sending employee mutually assume he is not at risk of heart attack while on travel it seems to me that responsibility presumed by state is the correct presumption.
    Mutual assumption of good health to travel isn’t supported by the reporting I have read or Bilby’s comments that I was addressing. If you have facts to the contrary, feel obliged to reference them.



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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    I agree. Imo, the employee should arguably be free to choose what activities to engage in outside work, and with that freedom should come personal responsibility. 'Being on a business trip' in no way obliged him to go to the home of a woman and have sex with her. He could have done that on any night of a normal working week, or at a weekend.
    On a business trip, no activity is "outside" of work.

    An employer shouldn't be able to send an employee on a business trip on the terms that "you're only on the clock during business hours." If an employee is on a business trip, he should be considered to be working the entire time--even while sleeping--and should be paid for every minute of the trip. If this requires that the employee stay in his hotel room and avoid strenuous activity, then so be it, but let's not pretend that it's his own time.

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    Contributor ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfield View Post
    [....let's not pretend that it's his own time.
    It may not strictly speaking be his own time, but that doesn't get you to saying that he didn't freely chose to do a certain thing during the non-working part of the trip, which the company in no way obliged him to.

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    French company liable after employee dies during extra-marital sex with stranger on business trip

    Quote Originally Posted by bigfield View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    I agree. Imo, the employee should arguably be free to choose what activities to engage in outside work, and with that freedom should come personal responsibility. 'Being on a business trip' in no way obliged him to go to the home of a woman and have sex with her. He could have done that on any night of a normal working week, or at a weekend.
    On a business trip, no activity is "outside" of work.

    An employer shouldn't be able to send an employee on a business trip on the terms that "you're only on the clock during business hours." If an employee is on a business trip, he should be considered to be working the entire time--even while sleeping--and should be paid for every minute of the trip. If this requires that the employee stay in his hotel room and avoid strenuous activity, then so be it, but let's not pretend that it's his own time.
    An employee sent out of town to negotiate the acquisition of a company is, at the direction of his superior(s), is physically present in the other town at the direction of his superior to perform work related activities. But this doesn’t transform every minute of his presence in the town as “working the entire time.”

    There are hours of the day in which the employee is not “working the entire time” for their employer when they are not “out of town.” The same approach can be utilized for a business trip out of town. Being out of town doesn’t transform those activities that aren’t job related and are not “working” while “in town” to activities that constitute as “working.”

    To use your example, someone sleeping “in town,” where sleeping isn’t necessarily part of the job (I’m thinking of medical professionals, who are known to work long hours at a hospital and will sleep at the hospital during their shift) and they aren’t considered to be “working the entire time” they are asleep, isn’t transformed into “working the entire time” they are asleep just because their job has temporarily resulted in different geographical location to lay their head.

    Even if the person is “working the entire time” they are out of town, there’s still the question of whether that does or should render the employer liable for a heart attack suffered by the employee while on the clock. An employer shouldn’t necessarily be liable for a heart attack of an employee who was on the clock.


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    Last edited by James Madison; 09-25-2019 at 10:34 PM.

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