DLA Piper and Kent Law School's pro bono clinic are going head-to-head in a legal battle between supermarket giant Tesco and a group of employees.
Kent Law Clinic is representing 27 Tesco employees who it claims were left out of a deal on redundancy pay struck between the supermarket and Tesco staff belonging to the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU).
Former Tesco employee Maria Pizza launched the case regarding the circumstances in which she and 26 colleagues were made redundant in 2005.
In June of that year Tesco took over a distribution depot at Strood, Kent. Three months later the supermarket giant closed it, laying off approximately 500 employees, including Pizza.
At a hearing of Pizza v Tesco at the Ashford employment tribunal last Tuesday (20 February), the 27 staff were pushing for compensation totalling £100,000. However, the matter was adjourned until June for a preliminary hearing.
Students Jess Gridley, Klara Holdstock, Rebekah Parker and Stephen Reeves are leading the case for Kent Law Clinic. They are being assisted by fellow students Emily Edwards, Sarah French, Joanna Louise Geekie, Sian Levett, Jenny O'Reilly and Marie Christine Reiter.
DLA Piper Birmingham partner Peter Thompson is leading the firm's team representing Tesco.
The 27 employees bringing the charge allege that Tesco later struck a secret deal with the TGWU after the union applied to the Ashford Employment Tribunal regarding Tesco's failure to comply with the statutory requirement to consult with the workforce.
They allege that Tesco and the union then reached a secret deal, under which each Tesco employee made redundant that belonged to the union received between £1,500 and £2,000 each on top of their redundancy payments.