Risky Business on Work Trips: Who Bears the Risk?
Predictable jokes about French joie de vivre swept employment law circles after a recent decision from a Paris court awarded damages to the estate of an employee who had died on a business trip in 2013. The cause of death was a heart attack suffered while the employee was having “an extramarital relationship with a perfect stranger.” The French state health care provider previously ruled that the death was due to a “workplace accident,” a ruling the court upheld, agreeing that an employee is entitled to coverage during the whole course of the business trip, no matter the activity.
It is unlikely that the New York State Workman’s Compensation Board would have been so laissez faire, if you will. Injuries incurred on business trips are generally not compensable if they arise out of activities that are purely personal and not within the scope of employment, Grady v. Dun & Bradstreet, 265 A.D.2d 643 (1999). There are grey areas, of course. Injuries incurred on a business trip while walking, eating or napping during a conference call—actions that are technically personal—would probably be considered to have been incurred during the course of employment. Death during a one night stand, however, would likely not pass muster.
This article is intended only as a general discussion of these issues. It is not considered to be legal advice or relied upon. For additional information or advice on specific situations, please feel free to contact Alice K. Jump, who has extensive experience representing clients in various employment matters.