>> British supermarket chain Tesco could face the country's largest equal pay claim. The UK's biggest retailer may have to dish out up to 4 billion pounds, or $5 and a half billion to bring its female employees' pay in line with men. That's according to law firm Leigh Day, which said on Wednesday it was pursuing the claim.
About 1,000 employees, past and present, have approached it so far but it estimates some 200,000 women could potentially cash-in with a shortfall that could reach 20,000 pounds each. But Reuters' James Davey says they could get bogged down in the courts for years.>> So I think in the final instance, the retailers will be pretty confident that they'll be able to avoid and kind of dismiss this claim.
I think at the end of the day, the 4 billion pounds headline figure we're seeing is very likely to be pretty much wide of the mark.>> Equal pay is a hot topic at the moment in Britain's boardrooms. Last month, BBC China editor Carrie Gracie resigned over unequal pay, prompting an investigation at the public broadcaster.
Some well known male presenters have since accepted pay cuts. Tesco is the largest private sector employer in the UK with more than 310,000 staff. Leigh Day said women made up the bulk of Tesco's shop floor workers while men dominated the higher paid work at distribution centers.>> The retailers can argue that they really are different jobs.
They argue in the courts that you have to take count of the fact that they are very different sectors demanding different rates of market pay. They'll argue that it's market forces at work here and not inequality.>> Leigh Day's working on similar claims at the supermarket's rivals, Sainsburys and Asda, the British arm of Walmart.