The Court of Appeal has recently handed down its judgment in the well-publicised equal pay claim of Allen v GMB.

This was a claim by a group of female union members working for Middlesbrough Borough Council against the union. The group claimed that the union had indirectly sexually discriminated against them by recommending that union members should accept the "single status" deal. The predominantly female group claimed they had been misled about the back pay that they would receive in the interests of pursuing a better future deal for male members.

The Court of Appeal accepted the Employment Tribunal's view (later overturned by the Employment Appeal Tribunal) that the aims of avoiding job losses and achieving the best possible pay protection were legitimate. However, they did not accept that the union's actions amounted to a proportionate means of achieving the aims. The claimants were successful.

Permission to appeal to the House of Lords has been refused by the Court of Appeal. Therefore, this decision provides support for the argument that employers should consider very carefully the impact on all employees when deciding whether or not to settle the mass equal pay litigation, to avoid further claims of sex discrimination.

Click here for the case.