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Asda store workers celebrate after Supreme Court ruling

Asda shop floor workers, represented by law firm Leigh Day, are one 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.

Posted on 26 March 2021

Asda shop floor workers, represented by law firm Leigh Day, are one 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”.

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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.

Leigh Day is representing more than 44,000 Asda workers, many of whom are supported by their trade union GMB.

The firm also represents clients from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, the Co-op and Next in similar equal pay cases which may be impacted by this judgment.

Lauren Lougheed, a partner in the employment team at Leigh Day, 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.”

Wendy Arundale, who worked for Asda for 32 years, said:

“I’m delighted that shop floor workers are one step closer to achieving equal pay. 

“I loved my job, but knowing that male colleagues working in distribution centres were being paid more left a bitter taste in my mouth.  

“It’s not much to ask to be paid an equal wage for work of equal value, and I’m glad that Supreme Court reached the same conclusion as all the other courts.”

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.” 

For more information or to join the claim visit equalpaynow.co.uk

Join the Asda Equal Pay Claim

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