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Woolies Faces Massive Class-Action

The Woolworths Group share price is down today to $37.96 morning amid legal actions brought against the supermarket giant and its competitor could fuse into one larger case.

The Federal Court flagged the two actions brought against Woolworths relating to the underpayment of employees might be heard alongside two similar actions made against Coles Group.

Fair Work began their case against Woolworths last year after the supermarket giant admitted to underpaying 19,000 employees totally over $570 million between 2015 and 2019. That places it in a similar position to Coles, which is facing an action in relation to the underpayment of 8,767 employees, and a class action.

Now, the four cases could be merged into one. The trial is set to begin in June 2023 and run for seven weeks.

The court claimed that the major issues can be divided into three tiers:

  • Tier 1 issues cover questions of law regarding the interpretation of the General Retail Industry Award, the Fair Work Act, and employment contracts

  • Tier 2 issues are those within which questions of law mix with questions of fact. For instance, the position of salaried employees

  • Finally, tier 3 issues are concerned with facts only. One example is if particular employees did, in fact, work the role they were employed for

In his decision, Justice Perram wrote:

“The issues in all four proceedings substantially overlap in relation to tiers 1 and 2. This suggests that they should be heard together in some fashion in relation to those issues.”

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