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Lawyers announce over 19,000 enquiries following ASDA equal pay legal case launched

Investigations revealed that employees in Asda owned distribution centres are paid more than supermarket employees

Posted on 24 October 2014

Employment law experts at Leigh Day taking legal action against supermarket giant Asda have announced that they have been approached by over 19,000 people following the announcement that they were taking the legal action over equal pay at the supermarket.   

The law firm confirmed that they are working through the enquiries and are currently representing hundreds of former and current employees of the supermarket chain, mostly female, who feel they have been paid less than others within the organisation despite carrying out roles of equal value.

According to discrimination and employment law expert Michael Newman, the Asda claims are possible after investigations revealed that employees in the Asda owned distribution centres were paid more than staff working in the supermarkets themselves. 

If the case against Asda, which has 175,000 employees, is successful, claimants may be entitled to six years’ worth of back pay to compensate for the difference in earnings.

New regulations mean that from October 1st 2014 employment tribunals have the power to order employers to conduct equal pay audits when they are found to be in breach of the equal pay provisions of the Equality Act 2010.
Other supermarket chains that also own their distribution centres include Sainsbury's and Morrisons.

Mr Newman from Leigh Day, who has represented thousands of clients in equal pay cases, warned that the implications of these legal claims were ‘enormous for Asda and many other supermarkets in the UK’.

He said: “In the supermarkets the check-out staff and shelf-stackers are mostly women. The people in the warehouses are pretty much all men. And, as a whole, the group that is mostly men gets paid more.”

"Our investigations suggest that the jobs are pretty much the same, in that warehouse staff are responsible for taking items off shelves, putting them on pallets and loading them into lorries. In the supermarket, they do the reverse: taking the pallets off the lorries, unstacking them and putting the items on the shelves. Where the jobs are not similar, we still think they are of equal value.”

"Although there have been huge advancements in equal pay within the public sector, there is still a long way to go in the private sector. Compulsory audits are the only way to make sure the gender pay gap is being narrowed.
“Until now cases simply have not been brought, so you still get very segregated workplaces.”

The latest round of equal pay cases follows a Supreme Court ruling back in October 2012 in which Leigh Day won the right for equal pay claims to be brought in the High Court up to six years after a worker leaves the employment where pay discrimination may have occurred.

The judgment effectively extended the time limit for equal pay claims from six months to six years, the biggest change to Equal Pay legislation since it was introduced in 1970, with huge implications for thousands of workers. 

To discuss a case or for advice from the Leigh Day employment team please call: 0800 037 4045 And or email: asda@leighday.co.uk