Asda has lost an employment tribunal appeal, in a “landmark” ruling on 31 August.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal backed a ruling in October last year that Asda’s female store workers could compare themselves to male staff at its distribution centres.
The claim was brought by more than 7,000 former and current Asda retail staff, who are also members of the GMB trade union.
These claimants, who earn less than their male counterparts working at the supermarket’s warehouses, argued that their jobs held the same value.
The supermarket challenged the ruling on 10 different grounds, but was unsuccessful on all counts.
Asda has been permitted to appeal against this decision at the Court of Appeal.
An Asda spokesman said the supermarket was ”disappointed” with the ruling.
”We continue to strongly dispute the claims being made against us. The employment tribunal has yet to consider whether the jobs are of equal value in terms of their demands and if some jobs are, only then will the tribunal move on to consider the reasons for the differentials, including the existence of different market rates in different industry sectors.
“Pay rates in stores differ from pay rates in distribution centres for legitimate reasons, including the different market rates for different jobs in different sectors.”
The GMB said it was a “landmark ruling” that “opens the door for a potential equal pay claim”.
It called on Asda to become “a market leader in solving this wide ranging industry problem”.
GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “GMB look[s] forward to Asda management sitting down and finding a sensible negotiated solution to recognising that our women members in stores should be paid and valued as equal to the men.
“Instead of wasting money on litigation, we ask Asda to be a market leader in solving this wide ranging industry problem.”