The retailer Asda has failed in its attempt to force 7,000 women to pursue equal pay claims in the High Court instead of at an employment tribunal.
The case involved claims by more than 7,000 Asda employees, overwhelmingly women, working in its stores across the UK. They claimed equal pay with staff, mainly men, employed in distribution depots.
Asda considered the case to be exceptional and of great significance for the retail trade generally. It argued that the claims should be heard in the High Court, which would be more able to deal with the complex issues involved.
It argued that the tribunal had the power to stay proceedings indefinitely, thereby compelling the employees to pursue their claims in the High Court.
The tribunal concluded that it had no power to impose a stay for that purpose. The Employment Appeal Tribunal agreed and said Asda had no arguable case.
The Court of Appeal has also upheld the decision, saying that the employees had the right to have their claims heard by the Employment Tribunal.
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