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Supreme Court hearing in Asda workers' equal pay battle

The long running equal pay battle for supermarket workers has reached a landmark stage this week.

13 July 2020

The Supreme Court is hearing an appeal by Asda against a ruling by the Court of Appeal in January 2019 that the roles of shop workers could be compared to those of warehouse staff.
In turn that ruling upheld the ruling in October 2016 made by an employment tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal in 2017.
 
The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the supermarket’s latest appeal is Asda’s final chance to argue that Asda shop floor workers – most of whom are women – cannot be compared to predominantly-male distribution centre staff for the purposes of equal pay.
 
The case has captured the attention of national and global press because the ruling, expected in a few months’ time, will have massive ramifications for other ongoing equal pay claim cases by workers at Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Co-op and Tesco.
 
This landmark case is the UK’s biggest equal pay claim and without precedent in the private sector. The total estimate of the claims against the five supermarkets, if they lose their cases, and are ordered to pay all eligible staff could be over £8 billion.
 
Lauren Lougheed, a partner in the employment team, said:
 
“Shop floor workers have always had a demanding job, but in the current climate it’s not only physically challenging but also mentally and emotionally exhausting.
 
“We want these hardworking women and men to know how much we value and appreciate the work they do. That’s why we are as determined as ever to continue their fight for equal pay.
 
“We are hopeful that we can win on this issue for the fourth time in the Supreme Court, to prove once and for all that the roles are comparable, and continue on to win the overall fight for equal pay for our clients.”
 
Leigh Day lawyers say the supermarket workers’ fight will not end, even if Supreme Court justices ruled in their favour.

The employees will still have to show that supermarket and distribution roles are of equal value, and that there is no reason other than sex discrimination for pay differences

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