Woolworths (ASX:WOW) ‘settles’ class action proceedings  

Highlights

  • Supermarket giant has announced provisional settlement of the class action proceedings which started in 2019. 
  • The Group stated that it will make an ex-gratia payment of AU$2,500 in addition with the superannuation to be paid before Christmas to nearly 20,000 current and former GRIA-covered salaried store team members.  

Retail giant Woolworths Group Limited (ASX:WOW) announced on 8 October 2021 that the Group has provisionally settled the class action proceedings, commenced in November 2019, concerning its remediation of salaried team members covered by the General Retail Industry Award (GRIA) on the basis that the proceedings be discontinued. 

The supermarket giant informed that WOW has taken another crucial step in its salaried team member remediation program, with an ex-gratia payment of AU$2,500 in addition with the superannuation to be paid before Christmas to nearly 20,000 current and former GRIA-covered salaried store team members. The total payment is expected to be approximately AU$50 million and encompasses the period beyond the legal limitation period (January 2010 to September 2013). 

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According to the announcement, Woolworths Group has been defending class action Court proceedings in relation to its remediation of GRIA-covered salaried team members. The Class members comprise former and current team members represented by employment and workplace law firm Adero Law. 

The Group has revealed that it has now provisionally settled the salaried team member class action proceedings. The settlement is on the basis that:  

  • The class action will be discontinued;  
  • Any class member entitled to additional compensation, if any, over the period beginning November 2013 will be decided based on the Court’s determination of the legal principles in the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) proceedings started in June this year; and  
  • The settlement of the class action is subject to the approval of the Court. 

In the year 2019, a lawsuit was filed against Woolworths regarding the underpayment of its workers, who claimed that the initial AU$300 million remediation figure presented by the Company was way less than what was suffered. 

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Bottom Line: 

The provisional settlement of the class action proceedings will ensure that WOW’s approach to full remediation can be appropriately addressed through the FWO proceedings. The settlement of the lawsuit will no doubt improve the reputation of the supermarket giant and help it create a positive image of the brand.  

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