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Cheers - AE

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Life is a lottery...

... and it sometimes seems as if more and more people are seeing misfortune, even if largely self inflicted, as a winning ticket. In today's news from opposite sides of the world we have a British policewoman who was too sick to work but was able to go on Total Wipeout suing the police force, and an Australian federal government employee demanding compensation from her employers because while working away from home, and engaging in what sounds like some fairly energetic sex in a motel room, a light fell on her head. And I have questions about that.

First, the copper.
Colleagues of PC Lesley Hart, 51, complained to their bosses after seeing her take part in the high energy game show hosted by Richard Hammond.
She was flown to Argentina to take part in the programme while she was on long term sick leave from the Devon and Cornwall police where she worked on domestic violence cases.
Now she has launched legal action against the force claiming she was not offered the support she needed to return to work.
She had been moved to the domestic violence unit after returning from another lengthy sick leave for a shoulder injury - apparently caused by wearing heavy body armour.
At the time she flew to Argentina to record Total Wipeout she was off work suffering from stress which she attributed to the emotionally demanding nature of her work, excessive caseload, and lack of support from senior officers.
The trip was not authorised by senior officers but an internal investigation cleared her of any misconduct and no disciplinary action was taken.
Her medical retirement occurred a few weeks later.
She has now launched a legal claim against the force which will be heard either in an employment tribunal or in the High Court.
It is understood to allege that the police did not do enough to support her in her job before she became ill and that it did not offer her the help she needed to continue working.
Now all of that may well be true, I have no idea either way, but assuming it is I have to ask why it's anyone else's problem? Did the police force have any kind of duty to do that? Might have been wise for them to anyway since they had time and money invested in her training and experience, although when someone on long term sick leave goes on a physically demanding TV game show without even mentioning it to colleagues I suppose the value of that investment might be reassessed. But should employers be under any kind of obligation to bend over backwards for someone who for whatever reason can't actually do the work anymore? I'm sure it was a stressful and emotionally job, and it's one I wouldn't do for quids, but you know what? A lot of people just go and find another line of work when they're not happy in their job anymore.

But while I don't know either way about Lesley Hart's situation, although I doubt it would have occurred to me to take legal action, my mind's more made up on that of the unnamed government worker here in Oz because for the life of me I can't see what it had to do with her employers.
The woman's claim is based on the fact that she suffered the injuries "during the course of her employment", because she was required to travel to the country town and to stay overnight to attend a budget review meeting early the next day.
Her barrister, Leo Grey, argued in the Federal Court today that she was "induced or encouraged" by her employer to spend the night at the hotel where the incident occurred, and was thus entitled to compensation under workers' compensation laws.
Well, if they induced or encouraged to spend the night at a hotel infamous for its falling light fittings I could see her point, but I'm pretty sure that it was just 'You're needed in this town for this purpose, and since it's a long way away you'll need to stay overnight.' I'm even more sure that her employer would not have induced or encouraged her to have sex so hard the lights fell down since that's generally not an occupational requirement in most work roles outside brothels.
The woman is appealing against a decision by Comcare, the federal government workplace safety body, upheld by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which found that sex was not an "ordinary activity" during an overnight stay.
But Mr Grey said the fact that his client was having sex had little to do with the case.
"This case ... is as much about slipping in the shower, or being beaten by a gang of thugs or being shot by a jealous rival," he said.
And how would any of that have been the fault of her employer? Surely it would have been the fault of the gang or the rival or, for falling in the shower, the fault of Shit for making good on it's threat and Happening. As it was she fancied a nice shag and a light fell on her, and I couldn't work out why she was taking her department to court instead of the hotel whose light fell on her. I mean, was it poorly fitted or something to have been just shagged off the wall by a couple, er, coupling away on the bed below?

Not quite, though you need to watch the video on the link to find out why (my bold).
While she was there she had sex with a male acquaintance in a motel room paid for by her employer. While they were having sex one of them grabbed a glass light from the ceiling which fell and smashed into the woman's face.
Ah, and is that why she's not taking the hotel to court? Because it didn't just fall down but was grabbed by one of them during And was grabbing the light encouraged or induced by her employer? Forget the fact they paid for the room. If she had a dairy allergy and accidentally put milk in her tea while she was in there would that be the fault of her employers? Would they have induced or encouraged her to? Or would she simply have done something off her own back that had unpleasant consequences for her?
Today the woman's lawyer ... said his client's injuries occurred during the course of her employment.
I envy lawyers sometimes, I really really do. It must be a lot of fun being paid to say some of the things that they have to say for their clients as well as challenging to keep a straight face. Frankly I'm surprised they don't all play poker.

As far as what this particular lawyer has said and what I think of it, well, as I've already mentioned I think it's pretty unlikely she was sent there to have sex, let alone have the kind of movie sex that wrecks light fittings. I'm not a lawyer so I really don't know if that the law here still counts that as 'during the course of employment', but it seems harsh to blame them for her decision to have sex and for its consequences. If she'd got pregnant nobody would say it was during the course of her employment and that she should get child support from her department, would they?

Or maybe I'm being harsh because in the past I've had a job that involved early starts away from home and an unwanted hotel stay the previous night, and from personal experience I can tell you that when you've got two people having headboard thumping, spring squeaking, chandelier swinging movie sex in the room next door you'd be happy for the light to fall on them if it meant you could finally get the fucking sleep you drove all that way for.
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