The claims primarily relate to the difference in pay between workers on supermarket shop floors and those in the associated distribution centres.
Around 170 claimants are being represented by law firm Roscoe Reid, which is working in partnership with workers’ rights specialists Pay Justice.
The claimants, many of whom are customer assistants and roughly 70% women, argue that the work they do is of “equal value” to that of the workers in the distribution centres. They believe they have been underpaid almost £2 per hour dating back up to six years and are therefore owed thousands in back pay.
Roscoe Reid estimates that there are up to 25,000 Morrisons workers who may have a claim including those who have left within the last six years. These include full time, part time and casual workers across all of the UK’s 498 Morrisons’ stores.
If all the workers are successful in their claims, Morrisons may be forced to pay compensation amounting to more than £100m. In 2016 Asda lost a preliminary issue on whether jobs in different parts of the business can be compared, which Asda has appealed; the Employment Tribunal is yet to decide whether jobs in the different industry sectors are of equal value.
Ellie Pinnells, one of the lead lawyers at Roscoe Reid, said: “We fully expect these claims to succeed and we also expect many more current and former store workers to join our current group of claimants.
“The basis for equal pay claims was established almost 50 years ago with the Equal Pay Act 1970. That gender pay discrimination still exists in such a large and successful company such as Morrisons is surprising to say the least.”
A spokesman for Morrisons said: “We haven’t received a legal claim on this matter. Our aim is to pay our colleagues fairly and equally for the job that they do, irrespective of their gender.”
Roscoe Reid will be starting legal proceedings within the next few months, initially through ACAS (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).