Asda has failed to have a bulk equal pay claim against them moved from an employment tribunal to the High Court.
Around 7,000 current and former employees are seeking to compare their jobs in Asda retail stores with the jobs of their colleagues working in the supermarket’s distribution centres.
The staff, mostly women, are claiming that their work in the retail stores is paid less than those employed in the distribution depots, who are mainly men.
Asda applied to have the employment tribunal proceedings stopped, which would have meant that the claimants would have to continue their case in the High Court.
Asda’s lawyers claimed that the complexities of the case meant that it should be heard in the High Court. But in his ruling, Lord Justice Elias said that Parliament recognises the employment tribunal as the appropriate setting for deciding an equal pay issue, not than the High Court.
In a statement Asda said: “The ruling from the Court of Appeal relates solely to the way the case will proceed in the courts, it has nothing to do with the merits of the case itself. Whilst we disagree with the decision, we continue to strongly dispute the claims being made against us in the employment tribunal.
“This is a legal case about different rates of pay for different jobs. We believe that jobs in question are very different in terms of their demands, and we strongly dispute the claims being made.
“At Asda, people doing the same job are paid the same. Men and women doing the same job in our retail stores are paid the same. Men and women doing the same job in our distribution and logistics centre are paid the same. Pay rates in stores and depots differ for legitimate reasons, including the different market rates for different jobs.”
The case will continue through the employment tribunal system.