Today we would like to focus on a long and complicated employment tribunal case. Last week, Asda bosses lost a Supreme Court appeal regarding an equal pay case brought forward by 40,000 shop floor workers.
The Supreme Court ruled that shop staff were entitled to compare themselves to colleagues at distribution centres for equal pay purposes – marking a key victory for Asda store workers in their long-running dispute for equal pay.
The first employment tribunal which led to this legal action took place almost five years ago in June 2016. The employment tribunal had decided that Asda store workers, most of whom are women, were entitled to compare themselves to distribution staff, most of whom are men. That decision was subsequently upheld by Court of Appeal judges in 2019.
However, Asda appealed to the Supreme Court, but all judges unanimously ruled in favour of store workers.
Asda argue that physical working environments between retail and distribution staff is different, while the claimants – the shop workers – believe the work provides the same level of value to the grocer.
The store workers, who had the help of legal representation from law firm Leigh Day, argued that they were historically paid less because most store workers are women while most distribution depot staff are men. The lawyers also said distribution depot workers receive between £1.50 and £3.00 per hour more compared to shop floor colleagues.
“This victory is a huge step forward in the fight for gender equality” said Lauren Lougheed, the Leigh Day Partner representing Asda store staff.
There is a long litigation period ahead, but should the full process conclude that the roles are of equal value then Asda are likely to have to pay each of the claimants up to six years back pay – which on average will be in excess of £10,000 per store worker.
If you’ve been mistreated at work it’s hard to know how to proceed. You need your job, of course, but you don’t need the stress of being treated badly. It’s common to think that if you do anything about it your situation may only get worse.
We know the law, and I know how to make the best of your situation.
If you need to take a stand against an employer you don’t need to do it alone. We will fight for your rights, and for the others in your workplace who also need protection against unfair practices and discrimination. There are time limits though, so don’t delay in getting legal advice.