7000 Claimant’s, predominantly female, are currently pursuing an equal pay claim against ASDA Stores Limited. Using employees within the company’s distribution depots as comparators, who are mostly male, the Claimant’s claim that their work is of equal value, but they are being paid less. The Claimant’s allege that their roles were perceived as female roles which were worth less, and that they were therefore paid less and vice versa. The reality they maintain, is that their roles are of equal value to those within the distribution depots, and they should be paid the same accordingly.
The claims were commenced in the Employment Tribunal. However, ASDA stores argued that the issues were extremely complex and had wider private sector ramifications, which meant that it should be heard in the High Court. They accepted that the Employment Tribunal had no power to transfer the case themselves to the High Court, but argued that the Tribunal should stay the case indefinitely, thereby compelling the Claimant’s to bring High Court proceedings. The Employment Tribunal rejected this proposal. It concluded that not only would it not be appropriate (for one thing, there would be limitation issues), but that it had no power to impose such as stay in these circumstances. The Tribunal also stated that it was perfectly able to handle a case like this
ASDA appealed to the Court of Appeal (ASDA Stores Ltd v Brierley & Ors  EWCA Civ 566). The Court of Apppeal rejected the appeal. It concluded that the Employment Tribunal was the correct forum for hearing the case, and that to force the Claimant’s to bring new proceedings in the High Court would be prejudicial not only for limitation reasons, but also due to the additional stress and expense involved, and the costs implications.
It is not yet known whether ASDA intend to appeal higher up to the Supreme Court.
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