BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Thousands of current and former employees of UK supermarket Tesco (OTC:TSCDY) won their fight for equal pay on Thursday in a judgment from Europe’s top court that could affect other retailers.
Tesco found itself in the spotlight after about 6,000 current or former employees took their grievance to an employment tribunal in Watford, near London.
They argued the company’s shop workers – mostly women – had not received equal pay for equal work compared with its distribution workers – mostly men – since February 2018, in breach of EU and UK laws.
The shop staff argued the firm should be seen as a single entity in terms of employment conditions.
Tesco had argued an EU law defining equal pay for equal work, or work of equal value, was not directly applicable in this case.
The UK tribunal sought guidance from the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice (CJEU), Europe’s highest, which rejected Tesco’s arguments.
“The principle, laid down by EU law, of equal pay for male and female workers can be relied upon directly, in respect both of ‘equal work’ and of ‘work of equal value’, in proceedings between individuals,” CJEU judges said.
The court said it had jurisdiction over the case in accordance with Britain’s withdrawal deal with the EU.
Tesco could not immediately be reached for comment.
The CJEU ruling is final and cannot be appealed. The case C-624/19 Tesco Stores.