Hundreds of others pay equality compensation claims can now be brought before the courts after this incident. The Court of Appeal has declared that 174 cooks, cleaners, catering and care staff previously employed by Birmingham City Council are entitled to launch their claims in the High Court.
According to the lawyers, the women are time-barred from taking their cases to the Employment Tribunal and the “landmark” ruling has brought to them the new hope of obtaining compensation.
A city council spokesman has stated that the final judgment has made them disappointed and they are considering to appeal before the Supreme Court.
Low salaried women have also enjoyed the recent victories, notably against Sheffield city council, have helped to establish the example that women working in cleaning and caring jobs should be paid equally as men in male-dominated occupations such as refuse collectors, street cleaners, road workers and gravediggers.
The court has heard that, in 2007 and 2008, tens of thousands of pounds were paid to female council employees to compensate them. In addition to this, the women who went before the Employment Tribunal have also been given more payments this year.
However, only workers who are still employed or have only recently left their employment are eligible to go to the tribunal. Those who have left their jobs more than six months earlier are given a strict six-month time-limit for launching their claims.
To get things done before the expiration of time-limit, the 174 women have already started actions for damages in the High Court, which offers a far more generous six-year deadline for launching claims.
The city council have attempted to struck out the claims through an argument that that under equal pay legislation such claims could only be entertained by the Employment Tribunal. If the council had been right, the women workers would have had no hope of bringing successful claims because of the tribunal strict time limits.
However, Lord Justice Mummery, Lord Justice Davis and Dame Janet Smith have jointly ruled that the council was wrong in law and unanimously dismissed the council’s appeal against a deputy High Court judge’s ruling last December in favour of the women.
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