174 people who used to work for Birmingham City Council have been given the go-ahead to launch pay equality compensation claims in the High Court after a ruling by the UK's highest court.
Lawyers have described the judgment as a "landmark" and say it could have "huge implications".
The Supreme Court decision follows a Court of Appeal ruling in the favour of the 170 women and four men - former cooks, cleaners, catering and care staff.
The city council had challenged that decision, saying that the cases ought to be heard by an employment tribunal, but the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal by a majority.
The council had hoped that if they claims were heard by an employment tribunal a six-month time limit would have meant the claims were invalid.
In 2007 and 2008, tens of thousands of pounds were paid to female council employees in compensation.
More payments have also been made to women who took cases to an employment tribunal.
But only workers still employed or who had recently left were eligible to make claims in a tribunal.
Those who had left earlier were caught by a six-month deadline for launching claims.
Those claimants had started actions for damages in the High Court, which has a six-year deadline for launching claims.
They will not be able to pursue their claims, which have not yet been heard.
Leigh Day and Co, the lawyers representing the women and men who brought the claims, have hailed the Supreme Court ruling as, "an historic decision".
Birmingham City Council could be looking at huge costs if the 170 women and four men are successful in their claims.