Posted: Fri 26th Mar 2021

Asda store workers celebrate after Supreme Court ruling on equal pay

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Mar 26th, 2021

More than 40,000 Asda shop floor workers are a step closer to victory in their fight for equal pay after the Supreme Court today (Friday) ruled their roles can be compared to their colleagues in distribution centres.

The five Supreme Court Justices unanimously decided that, at a time when Parliament is determined to make equal pay law effective, now is not the time to take its “foot off the pedal”.

In her judgment, Lady Arden said the case was “important because otherwise an employer could avoid equal pay claims by allocating certain groups of employees to separate sites so that they can have different terms even where this is discriminatory”.

The hearing, which took place via video link on 13-14 July 2020, was Asda’s final chance to argue the roles are not comparable.

Barristers Andrew Short QC, Naomi Cunningham and Paul Livingston, from Outer Temple Chambers were instructed in the case.

The next stage in this equal pay claim is for Leigh Day solicitors, on behalf of the claimants, to argue that the roles are of equal value. This part of the claim is already underway.

After equal value has been decided, Asda will then have an opportunity to argue that there is a reason, other than sex discrimination, as to why the roles should not be paid equally.

Lauren Lougheed, a partner in the employment team at law firm Leigh Day, which is representing more than 44,000 Asda workers, said:

“We are delighted that our clients have cleared such a big hurdle in their fight for equal pay.”

“Already an employment tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal ruled that these roles can be compared, and now the Supreme Court has come to the same conclusion.”

“It’s our hope that Asda will now stop dragging its heels and pay their staff what they are worth.”

An Asda spokesman said: “This ruling relates to one stage of a complex case that is likely to take several years to reach a conclusion.”

“We are defending these claims because the pay in our stores and distribution centres is the same for colleagues doing the same jobs regardless of their gender.”

“Retail and distribution are very different sectors with their own distinct skill sets and pay rates. Asda has always paid colleagues the market rate in these sectors and we remain confident in our case.”

GMB Union has hailed the Supreme Court ruling as a ‘massive victory’ and will call for meeting with Asda to discuss potential £500 million compensation

Susan Harris, GMB Legal Director, said:  “This is amazing news and a massive victory for Asda’s predominantly women shop floor workforce.”

“We are proud to have supported our members in this litigation and helped them in their fight for pay justice.”

“Asda has wasted money on lawyers’ bills chasing a lost cause, losing appeal after appeal, while tens of thousands of retail  workers remain out of pocket.”

“We now call on ASDA to sit down with us to reach agreement on the back pay owed to our members – which could run to hundreds of millions of pounds.”

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