Supreme Court denies Terranova leave to appeal in landmark pay equity case
By Fiona Rotherham
Dec. 22 (BusinessDesk) - The Supreme Court has denied aged care provider Terranova Homes and Care, at the centre of a landmark court case paving the way for gender pay equity, leave to appeal the ruling.
In October the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal by Terranova Homes against an earlier Employment Court ruling backing Lower Hutt rest home worker Kristine Bartlett’s claim that women care workers’ low pay was discriminatory. She took a case against her employer, arguing her $14.32 an hour pay rate was a result of gender discrimination under the Equal Pay Act.
The Service and Food Workers Union also made a claim on behalf of 15 other caregivers employed by the company, asking for a statement of the general principles to be observed for implementing equal pay.
In a Supreme Court decision out this afternoon, the judges said it considered the company’s appeal premature.
The Court of Appeal had indicated in its view the next stage of the proceedings should be the setting of principles under section 9 of the Equal Pay Act which will determine the rate for Bartlett’s job in aged care.
“At least until that has been done, and considered by the Court of Appeal in any appeal, we consider the application for leave to be premature,” the Supreme Court judges said.
However, the dismissal of the application for leave to appeal at this stage, doesn’t stop the company’s ability to challenge any of the Court of Appeal’s findings in any subsequent appeal, it said.
The Public Service Association welcomed the court’s decision with national secretary Erin Polaczuk describing it as “another nail in the coffin for the gender pay gap.”
A recent Human Resource Capability report showed the gender pay gap in the public service is 14.1 percent.
“Kristine Bartlett’s strong action in taking this case has helped to put pay equity on the agenda, and will impact on women across many sectors, not just in aged care,” Polaczuk said.