Asda loses dispute with staff over multiple equal pay claims
Asda has lost its bid in front of the Court of Appeal to block numerous equal pay claims being brought against it by female employees carrying out different jobs in supermarkets who say that they are being paid less than men carrying out work of equal value in warehouses or distribution centres. Asda had successfully argued before the EAT that the multiple claims presented on the same claim form were an irregularity because the claimants were doing different jobs and the claims were therefore not based on the same set of facts under rule 9 of the 2013 Rules of Procedure. The Court of Appeal held that multiple claims were allowed on a single claim form under rule 9 where the Claimants argued that their roles and the work that they did was either the same or so similar to one another that the claims could properly be said to be based on the same facts. However, Lord Justice Underhill held that it was the work done which was important, and that their factual situations did not have to be identical, but that it was hard to see how a bakery assistant and a checkout operator could be said to be based on the same facts. Further, the Claimants did not have to rely upon the same comparators. The equal pay claims therefore were remitted to the tribunal to proceed on their merits with the question of the irregular inclusion of any claimants doing different jobs or male contingent claims to be dealt with by case management orders. If successful, the claims could cost supermarkets in the region of £8 billion.