Case law: equal pay claim does not need to identify individual comparator

By: Anthony Mullinder

Date: 19 June 2009

Employers seeking to defend equal pay claims cannot rely on the fact that the claimant does not identify an individual comparator, following a recent Court of Appeal decision.

This case concerned a number of female employees who brought equal pay claims, based on the fact that they were employed on less favourable terms than men in the organisation generally. An employment tribunal ruled that it could not hear the claims, as no specific male comparator (or group of male employees) was named in the grievance. However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) stated that the information to be provided in an equal pay case is minimal, and needs only to state that it is a claim under the Equal Pay Act.

The Court of Appeal agreed with the EAT, thereby removing a technical defence that employers may have had to an equal pay claim.

Although this case arose under the old statutory grievance procedures, and there is no longer a requirement (under the rules in force since April) to raise a grievance internally before making an equal pay claim, this will nevertheless continue to be relevant to the question of how much information needs to be given by the claimant about the comparator.

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