Asda faces mass legal action around equal pay by female employees over claims that male employees in the supermarket’s distribution centres are being paid more, despite doing comparable work.
Since then, law firm Leigh Day, which launched the case, has had more than 19,000 employees enquire about equal pay.
The law firm is working through the enquiries and is representing hundreds of former and current, mostly female employees of the supermarket chain, who feel they have been paid less than others within the organisation.
The cases are aimed at determining if the mainly female-staffed retail jobs are of equal value to higher-paid jobs in Asda’s male-dominated distribution centres.
If successful, Asda employees may be entitled to six years’ worth of back pay to compensate for the differences in earnings.
An Asda spokesperson said: “A firm of no-win no-fee lawyers is hoping to challenge our reputation as an equal opportunities employer.
“We do not discriminate and are very proud of our record in this area which, if it comes to it, we will robustly defend.”
Michael Newman, discrimination and employment specialist at Leigh Day, added: “In the supermarkets, the check-out staff and shelf-stackers are mostly women. The people in the warehouses are pretty much all men. And, as a whole, the group that is mostly men gets paid more.
“Our investigations suggest that the jobs are pretty much the same, in that warehouse staff are responsible for taking items off shelves, putting them on pallets and loading them into lorries. In the supermarket, they do the reverse: taking the pallets off the lorries, unstacking them and putting the items on the shelves.
“Where the jobs are not similar, we still think they are of equal value.”