Sports Direct is facing a legal challenge over its use of zero hour contracts.
Law firm Leigh Day and campaign group 38 Degrees are challenging the way the retailer treats its part-time workforce, arguing it gives flexibility to Sports Direct but none for its staff.
The claim is being brought by former Sports Direct employee Zahera Gabriel-Abraham, who started working at the retailer last October, and is funded through donations made through the 38 Degrees site.
Gabriel-Abraham claims that although she was employed on a casual basis, she was expected to work as if she were employed full time.
Barrister Elizabeth George said: “We are not arguing that employers cannot have genuine flexible contracts, but the contract under which Ms Gabriel-Abraham worked, and which all SportsDirect.com 20,000 part-time employees appear to be working, has no flexibility at all for those people who sign them.
“There was no practical difference between the obligations put on my client by the company and those placed on full-time staff.
“Casual workers traditionally supplement an employer’s salaried staff, to be called upon when cover is needed or demand is high. In return for not having the security of knowing when you might work you have the benefit of being able to choose when you work. Without that choice you are not a casual worker you are just a worker with no job security.”
“The “casual” part-time employees in this case are employees in the conventional sense and denying them their paid holidays, sick pay and bonuses is unlawful.”
It has recently emerged that the sportswear group employs 90% of its staff, around 2,000 people, on zero hour contracts. None of these are eligible for holiday leave, sick pay or the recent share scheme bonus.