Coffee does not constitute an integral element of the workplace, the Supreme court in Italy pronounced. Italy’s caffeine-obsessed population has been following the case for over a decade.

In 2009, a civil servant, identified as Rosanna, tripped and broke her wrist on her way back to work from a coffee break. There was no in house coffee machine or canteen at her office, so her employer permitted Rosanna to leave the workplace for a caffeine fix.

Rosanna had to recuperate at home for 40 days following the event. However, when she tried to claim work-related sick pay for those days, her insurance company, Inail, refused to pay the compensation as they insisted that the accident was not related to work.

Rosanna sued, and in 2013, she won her case in a lower court, and Inail had to pay the compensation and disability allowance. Inail appealed twice — the first time was with an appeals court that sided with Rosanna, and the second was to the highest court.

After more than a decade of legal back and forth, the Supreme Court concluded that injuries during coffee breaks are not considered workplace injuries. Therefore, neither employers nor insurance companies are legally responsible for compensating workers, for accidents that happen when employees leave the office for a break.

The plaintiff’s lawyer said that Rosanna was “satisfying a physiological need” when she left the office for a coffee break – something some coffee lovers will undoubtedly relate to. However, the court ruled that the outing was, “a risk that was taken willingly by the employee” and not a “physiological need connected with her work activities.”

On top of that, the judges ordered Rosanna to pay more than €5,240 in legal costs.

While I may not be impartial, I feel that the Physiological associations of caffeine to mood and energy are well documented, so that seemed to be an odd place for the court to find fault. Perhaps the judges were tea drinkers?

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