Supreme Court to hear Leigh Day’s equal pay case against Asda

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On 13th -14th July the Asda equal pay case heads to the Supreme Court – but what does this mean for your claim? Here, Lauren Lougheed, a partner in the employment team, explains what going to the Supreme Court means.

What needs to happen?

Equal pay is a right, enshrined in the Equality Act – a woman cannot be legally paid less than a man for doing equal work.

Where two jobs in the same employment are different but of equal value, the Equality Act states that the employees must be paid the same, unless the employer can justify not doing so.

In an equal value claim, independent experts draw up categories to compare the two jobs. The experts will assess and mark how hard each job is using these categories. All of this information is then passed onto the judge to see if they agree with the findings.

What has already happened?

In January 2019 the Court of Appeal ruled that the roles of shop workers could be compared to those of warehouse staff, upholding the ruling in October 2016 made by an employment tribunal and the Employment Appeal Tribunal in 2017.

Asda has refused to accept these three rulings on the issue of comparability.

What is the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal in the UK for civil cases. It hears cases of the greatest public or constitutional importance affecting the whole population.

In July it will consider whether Asda shop floor workers – most of whom are women – can be compared to predominantly-male distribution centre staff for the purposes of equal pay.

The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the supermarket’s latest appeal is Asda’s final chance to argue the roles are not comparable.

We are as determined as ever to continue our clients’ fight for equal pay and are hopeful that we can win on this issue for the fourth time in the Supreme Court.

What happens next?

The hearing relates to the issue of comparability. If the court rules that the roles are comparable, Leigh Day solicitors, on behalf of the claimants, will go on to argue that the roles are of equal value and if they are, is there a reason other than sex discrimination that means the roles should not be paid equally?

The equal value part of the claim is already underway, with 13 of the disputed roles already having aspects of their job descriptions decided on by a judge.

Leigh Day also represents clients from Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons and the Co-op in similar equal pay cases which may be impacted by this judgment. To find out more about these claims please visit our Equal Pay Now website.

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.

You can follow the hearing live on the Supreme Court website.

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