An employment tribunal in Manchester has today ruled that lower paid women who work in Asda stores can compare themselves to higher paid men who work in ASDA’s distribution centres.

The judgment follows a hearing at Manchester Employment Tribunal which took place in June this year.

The decision by Employment Judge Ryan will allow over 7,000 store workers to proceed with their claims for equal pay against Asda in the UK’s largest ever private sector equal pay claim.

Law firm Leigh Day are currently representing former and current employees of the supermarket chain, mostly female, who feel they have been paid less than others within the organisation despite carrying out roles of equal value.

Asda had initially tried to stop the claims from proceeding in the employment tribunal, arguing that they should be heard in the High Court, however, the Court of Appeal ruled that the employment tribunal is the appropriate place for the women’s claims to proceed.

Employment Judge Ryan ruled after a two week hearing that the predominantly female store workforce can compare themselves to male colleagues.

The claims against Asda brought by Leigh Day could see workers recovering over £100 million going back to 2002 and may now be followed by new claims from workers awaiting this judgment.

Lauren Lougheed a lawyer in the employment team at Leigh Day, who is representing the Asda claimants, said:

“This is a dramatic victory for the workers we represent. Asda tried to argue that because the shops and distribution centres were in different locations, with different pay arrangements, that Asda could pay the men what they like.

“However, the employment tribunal found that Asda, the employer of both men and women, could have made sure that there was equal pay between men and women if they wanted to, but chose not to.

“This judgment will have far reaching implications on other supermarket equal pay claims including those we are bringing on behalf of around 400 Sainsbury’s workers who are in a similar situation.”