Asda workers win Supreme Court discrimination fight for equal pay

The Canary

Asda bosses have lost a Supreme Court equal pay fight with store workers.

More than 40,000 Asda store workers, about two-thirds of whom are women, brought equal pay claims after complaining that staff working in distribution depots unfairly get more money.

Asda bosses said store jobs were not comparable to distribution centre jobs.

The store workers, who are represented by law firm Leigh Day, made sex discrimination claims, saying they historically got less because most store workers are women while most distribution depot staff are men.

Implications for supermarkets and other retailers

Lawyers representing the store workers say distribution depot workers get 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 ruled against Asda bosses on Friday after considering arguments at a hearing in July.

Lawyers say the ruling will have implications for supermarkets and other retailers.

In 2016, an employment tribunal decided that store workers were entitled to compare themselves to distribution staff and that decision was upheld by Court of Appeal judges in 2019.

Asda bosses then appealed to the Supreme Court.

Lawyers say the store workers’ fight will not end, and litigation could run on for years.

They say the next stage would involve an employment tribunal deciding whether specific store and distribution jobs were of “equal value”.

If judges decided that different jobs were of “equal value”, the litigation would then enter a third stage.

Lawyers say an employment tribunal would then consider whether there were reasons – other than gender – why people working in stores should not get the same pay rates as people working in distribution centres.

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Good, although this will, over a period of years, not end well. Whenever women get equal pay then there is the initial rise in pay to get parity with their male colleagues. However, over the successive years the overall pay will be held down (equally of course) to ensure the overall wages bill reverts to what it was. The overall result is to bring the male employees wages down over time rather than increase the wages for women.

      Twas ever thus. Employers will take good and decent things and subvert them to ensure no one benefits – except them..

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.