Insights / News

Major victory for the Tesco equal pay claimants represented by members of Outer Temple Chambers

The Court of Justice of the European Union gives important judgment in favour of several thousand female and male workers represented by Keith Bryant QCNaomi CunninghamStephen Butler and Chloë Bell (instructed by Harcus Sinclair UK Limited, part of Harcus Parker) bringing equal pay claims against Tesco.

This is a seminal judgment on the scope of equal pay protections to which workers in England and Wales must now be entitled in domestic courts and tribunals; Article 157 TFEU has direct effect in equal pay claims based on work of equal value.

The claimants, represented by the team from Outer Temple Chambers, are all store-based employees or former employees of Tesco Stores Ltd.  They claim that they are paid significantly less than the approximately 11,000 employees in Tesco’s distribution centres.  Most of those distribution workers are men.  The claimants assert that their work is of equal value to the work of the men in the distribution centres, and so they are entitled, under both the Equality Act 2010 and Article 157 TFEU, to be paid the same as those men.

Tesco (relying upon some of the CJEU’s observations in Defrenne (43/75, EU:C:1976:56)), had attempted to defeat the claims by arguing that the direct effect of Article 157 TFEU is limited to a sub-category of types of ‘equal work’ and did not extend to claims based upon work of equal value.  The CJEU dismissed this argument, agreeing with the OTC team that the obligation to ensure equal pay for male and female workers is a fundamental principle which applies to all types of work, and the phrases “equal work”“work of equal value”, and “same job” in the legislation were “entirely qualitative in character” and did not detract from the basic obligation to pay women and men equally.


The full text of the CJEU’s judgment is available here and the court’s press release is here.

Find out more

Our employment & discrimination barristers are at the forefront of developments in various areas of employment law, including: equal pay, working time and holiday pay, disability discrimination and whistleblowing. Find out more about our employment law capabilities here or contact Nicholas Levett (+44 (0)20 7427 4908).

News 3 Jun, 2021


Keith Bryant KC

Call: 1991 Silk: 2013

Naomi Cunningham

Call: 1994

Stephen Butler

Call: 2014

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