A commonwealth public servant injured while having sex in a
motel room during a work trip will not receive workers
The High Court has ruled the woman was not engaged in a
specifically work-related activity.
The woman, then in her late 30s and employed in the human
relations section of a Commonwealth government agency, was
staying in a motel booked by her employer in a regional town
in November 2007.
While at the motel, she met a friend for dinner and they
returned to her room for sex.
In the process of intercourse, a glass light fitting above
the bed was pulled from its mount, either by her or her
It struck her on the nose and mouth causing physical injuries
and a subsequent psychological injury.
The woman initially applied to the federal workplace safety
body Comcare for workers compensation.
Comcare initially accepted but then revoked consideration of
She then turned to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and
the case worked its way through the legal system right up to
the High Court, which accepted Comcare's appeal against a
decision of the full bench of the Federal Court allowing
A majority of High Court judges held that the key issue was
whether the employer induced or encouraged her to engage in
this activity. And in this case the answer was no.
In a dissenting decision, Justice Stephen Gageler said the
woman was at a motel where her employer encouraged her to be
and the overnight stay was within the overall work period.
"The particular activity in which the respondent was engaged
at the time she was injured does not enter into the
analysis," he said.