Those of you who are regular readers may remember that the majority of the big supermarkets are facing equal pay claims. The general argument running through them all is that the predominantly male warehouse roles are paid more than the predominantly female store staff. This despite both roles having a stock management element.
The cases of Sainsbury’s and Asda have had a preliminary point heard together. In both cases it is argued the claims should not be joint claims because the facts of each case weren’t similar enough – a requirement of r9 of the ET rules.
The ET agreed but refused to strike out the claims because they had been brought in a large batch – for Asda over 7,000 Claimants – to avoid huge tribunal fees, which were in force at the time. The Respondent appealed, citing the batching of claims was unlawful as it was done to avoid fees.
The Court of Appeal held the ET was correct to waive the breach of rule 9 and stated that any future claims would have to be brought separately from the multi-claim.
Given the size and potential value of these cases, It isn’t surprising that Asda and Sainsbury’s are trying to eliminate the claim on technicalities such as this. However, soon the claims will proceed to a full hearing. With Tesco already announcing thousands of job cuts this month, it will be interesting to see how a potential multi-million pound equal pay claim impacts the other supermarkets.