For all of the talk about globalization, every once in a while we get a reminder that there are still a lot of differences between countries. One such reminder came this week, in a news story about a court ruling from France.
It’s a story about the unfortunate Xavier. a security technician who worked for a railway company near Paris. Xavier was sent on a business trip to central France by his employer. One night on the trip, the amorous Xavier had an extramarital relationship with a woman at her home one night — and then keeled over, dead, from a heart attack apparently related to the encounter. A health insurance fund concluded that Xavier’s demise was the result of a work-related accident, making the employer liable. The employer appealed, saying Xavier should be viewed, instead, as having interrupted his work-related trip for his tryst, so that the company was not responsible for his post-coital death.
Earlier this year a French court rejected the employer’s arguments. Under French law, any accident that happens on a business trip is considered to be work-related, even if the activity is not closely related to the purpose for the trip. The court ruled that French law protects employees engaged in everyday activities during business trips, unless they interrupted planned business activities, and the employer couldn’t show that Xavier was supposed to be working when he was having his fatal sexual encounter. And get this: the court noted that the insurance fund argued that sex was part of everyday life, “like having a shower or a meal.”
Casual sex with a stranger while you’re on a business trip is akin to taking a shower or eating breakfast? Only in France.