Next denies destroying documents in equal pay claim
The retailer is claimed to have disposed the documents allegedly supporting 330 mostly-female store staff’s claim they were paid unfairly. Next has denied the claim.
The workers are seeking parity with mostly-male warehouse workers who, on average, earn £2-£6 more per hour more than shop floor workers.
If successful, the payout could relate to the retailer’s 25,000 store staff across 500 stores in the UK and Ireland, costing Next around £200m.
A 12 January tribunal hearing will decide what happened to the documents and if Next should face any penalty. Law firm Leigh Day, which is acting for the store workers, says the retailer could face a ‘Strike-Out Order’ under which it would lose the right to defend itself against any equal pay claims.
It noted the destruction of related paperwork, which allegedly includes timesheets showing what hours staff worked, is a breach of an employment tribunal.
Elizabeth George, a barrister for Leigh Day, said: “It appears that essential documents to our case have been destroyed” that were “fundamental to a fair hearing of this case”.
A spokesperson for the retailer said: “Next has not destroyed documents in breach of a Tribunal Order and it believes that any assertion that it has, is based upon inaccurate information.
“Next is therefore confident that any application for a ‘Strike-Out Order’ will not succeed, as it is meeting all of its obligations under the Tribunal process”.
It added: “Next will continue to defend itself vigorously in this claim”.
Leigh Day said it is has similar equal pay case claims against major UK supermarket chains including Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Tesco and the Co-op. If successful, the claims could result in the retailers paying out billions of pounds.
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