Jim and Emmanuel were engineers with a mining company that frequently sent employees to remote job sites for long periods of time while new properties were being developed. Because of the time employees were required to stay at the remote sites, the company paid its employees extremely well and attracted a large number of unmarried young men to both its professional and labouring positions. The company had discovered, however, that it had difficulty attracting and keeping more senior and experienced personnel at the job sites. These employees were always in demand for the supervisory tasks and inevitable problems that required the expertise of experienced professionals. After discovering that one of the main factors that discouraged senior employees from accepting such positions was their reluctance to be absent from their families. The company offered to pay all costs of a return flight home once each month for married staff at remote sites. When Jim and Emmanuel were interviewed for positions with the company, they were told of this policy for married staff. Neither man was married and when both were offered positions a short time later, they understood that they would not be eligible to receive the travel allowance. One evening, Jim and Emmanuel were talking with some of the other employees at the job site about the travel policy. A colleague said that he would like to be able to get home to see his ill father more often, but he could not afford the cost of a commercial flight on a regular basis and since he was not married, he was not entitled to the company allowance. Overhearing this, one of the more senior employees commented, “I don’t think that the policy is very fair. Come to think of it, isn’t there some law against that? You guys should talk to management about that. They are good guys and might make some changes.” Discuss the legal issues raised in this case and what arguments that you would use if you represented the employees and what arguments you would use if you represented the company. Explain the factors that a court would consider and render a decision on the court’s behalf.
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