More than 40,000 Asda store workers WIN equal pay row with supermarket chain’s bosses in landmark Supreme Court ruling
Asda bosses have lost a court fight with store workers who brought equal pay claims after complaining that staff working in distribution depots unfairly got more money.
More than 40,000 Asda store workers, about two-thirds of whom are women, said staff working in distribution depots, most of whom are men, unfairly get more cash.
Asda bosses said store jobs were not comparable to distribution centre jobs, but justices at the Supreme Court in London today ruled against them.
They decided that store workers, who had made sex-discrimination claims, were entitled to compare themselves to distribution staff for equal pay purposes.
The store workers said they have historically got less because most store workers are women, and most distribution depot staff are men.
Asda bosses have lost a Supreme Court fight with store workers who brought equal pay claims after complaining that staff working in distribution depots unfairly got more money
Lawyers from legal firm Leigh Day who were representing the store workers said distribution depot workers got between £1.50 and £3.00 an hour more.
Supreme Court justices were asked to consider whether Asda store workers are entitled to compare themselves to distribution staff for equal pay purposes.
Judges considered arguments at a hearing in July and lawyers said the ruling will have implications for supermarkets, and other retailers.
Store workers bringing claims are members of the GMB union, which hailed the ruling as ‘amazing news’.
Susan Harris, the GMB’s 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.’
An Asda spokesman said today: ‘This ruling relates to one stage of a complex case that is likely to take several years to reach a conclusion.
‘We are defending these claims because the pay in our stores and distribution centres is the same for colleagues doing the same jobs regardless of their gender.
‘Retail and distribution are very different sectors with their own distinct skill sets and pay rates. Asda has always paid colleagues the market rate in these sectors and we remain confident in our case.’
The litigation began some years ago. In 2016, an employment tribunal decided that store workers were entitled to compare themselves to distribution staff.
That decision was upheld by Court of Appeal judges in 2019. Asda bosses then appealed to the Supreme Court.
Previously, lawyers had said the store workers’ fight would not end, even if Supreme Court justices had ruled in their favour, and the litigation could run on for years.
They had said the next stage would have involved an employment tribunal deciding whether specific store and distribution jobs were of ‘equal value’.