A Swedish waitress is suing her employer after they denied coverage and docked her earnings while off work getting cosmetic breast enhancement surgery.
The woman took two weeks off work from her job on a ferry boat on the Baltic Sea to recover from the operations and was paid from medical pay benefits for time off and medical and physician's expenses.
Upon returning to work with the new and improved breasts her employers noticed "the difference" and then discovered the time off was spent recovering from a cosmetic surgery and claimed the breasts would not be be covered as medically necessary. They considered this type of surgery to fall under the Seaman's Act, which would permit them to decline to foot the busty bill.
“The Seaman’s Act states that a seaman is not entitled to sick pay if he or she has deliberately caused him or herself an injury. This was a cosmetic operation, and therefore the injury should be seen as self-inflicted,” said Dag Gustavsson, press secretary for Transportgruppen, the employer’s organization representing ferry companies who says the law is quite clear.
Viking Line, the ferry company, not only denied the benefits they also docked her holiday pay as reimbursement for the monies paid to the Swede. Upon learning of their decision the waitress complained to the Union who were willing to come to the rescue and lend a hand or two to help her resolve the dispute.
When they were unable to garner relief the Union took Viking Lines to labour court and are demanding 185,000 kronor (approx $25000 USD) in damages and compensation for lost wages. Of that, 85,000 kronor is for the waitress and 100,000 for the union.
According to the woman’s union, Seko, the fact that the woman’s injuries were self-inflicted is irrelevant, and does not believe that maritime law should apply. “An operation is an operation, and you should get the same sick pay for that whether you work on sea or land,” Seko’s Mats Ekeklint told The Local.
Sweden is one of the most unionised countries in the world, says the Local, with the union movement representing over 70 percent of the nation’s workforce.
"For a Swede joining a union is like joining the church: you do it at birth and take it for granted,” says Michael Collins, National Secretary of the Civil Aviation Section of the Unionen union. With around half a million members Unionen is the biggest white-collar union in the world which may help when the labour board hears the case on benefits for breasts.