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Supermarket equal pay battle goes to the Court of Appeal

A Court of Appeal hearing will begin on Wednesday 10th October after Asda refused to accept two previous rulings which found in favour of tens of thousands of supermarket workers in the battle over equal pay.

Asda store

9 October 2018

The three-day hearing follows successful judgments on behalf of shop floor workers in the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal over whether the shop floor workers can compare their roles with those in the distribution centres.
 
Law firm Leigh Day represent over 27,000 Asda shop floor workers who argue that they should be paid equally to their colleagues in the supermarket’s distribution centres for their work of equal value.
 
Leigh Day represents shop floor staff from the big four supermarkets – Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons - in similar equal pay cases.
 
Leigh Day estimates that the total value of the claims against the big four supermarkets if they lose their cases and are ordered to pay all eligible staff could be over £8 billion.
 
Equal pay cases have three main stages:
  1. Are the roles comparable?
  2. If the roles are comparable, are they of equal value?
  3. If they are of equal value, is there a reason other than sex discrimination that means the roles should not be paid equally?
 
This week’s hearing concerns the first stage. Asda is appealing the two previous rulings which found that lower paid shop workers, who are mostly women, can compare themselves to higher paid workers in Asda’s distribution centres, who are mostly men. 
 
The ET ruled against Asda in October 2016, Asda then appealed this decision on ten different grounds.  In August 2017 the EAT ruled all points of their appeal unsuccessful. Asda then appealed this ruling to the Court of Appeal.
 
The case for Asda staff is the furthest along of all the supermarket equal pay claims. The Asda case is leading the way and decisions relating to the case will have implications for the other supermarket equal pay cases.
 
Lauren Lougheed, lead lawyer for the Asda case from Leigh Day, said: “We are ready to fight once again for our ever-increasing group of supermarket clients who rightly demand equal pay for doing a job of equal worth to Asda.
 
“We believe Asda are dragging their heels in this case and preventing our clients from getting fair pay and are denying  shop floor workers their rights by appealing the two previous decisions against them, forcing them to go through yet another hearing when we have clearly shown that the roles on the shop floor and those in the distribution centres can be compared and should therefore be paid equally.
 
“We hope that the Court of Appeal will agree with the two previous decisions on this matter and dismiss Asda’s appeal.”

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