Birmingham Council lose Supreme Court appeal

The Supreme Court decision follows a Court of Appeal ruling in the women's favour. That ruling said that scores of cooks, cleaners, catering and care staff previously employed by Birmingham City Council were entitled to launch pay equality compensation claims in the High Court.

The city council had challenged that decision but the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal by a majority.

In 2007 and 2008, tens of thousands of pounds were paid to female council employees to compensate them.

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 women had started actions for damages in the High Court, which has a six-year deadline for launching claims.

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'Landmark' equal pay ruling

The Supreme Court has ruled that 174 claimants who used to work for Birmingham City Council can launch equal pay compensation claims past the current six-month time limit. Lawyers for the former employees have described the judgment as a "landmark."