A Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of claims made by 174 former employees of the Birmingham City Council. The employees, all women, demanded compensation equal to male employees. Earlier, in 2010, the High Court passed a similar sentence that was challenged by the council.

The court also rebuffed the council's plea that the High Court had no jurisdiction to determine these claims.

According to a BBC report, the women, who were working as cooks, cleaners, caterers and care staff, claimed they were excluded from bonuses that would have been distributed, were the person in each of their current positions a man.

The court's ruling opens the way for potential claimants from both the private and public sector to seek judicial intervention from outside the Employment Tribunal for any claims related to compensation. The ruling is particularly important since it marks the first time, since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970, such a judgment has been passed by two successive courts.

According to earlier regulations, cases presented at the Employment Tribunal must be heard within six months and the claimant must either be currently employed or have left their jobs no more than six months ago. Following the recent ruling, however, the Court of Appeal has extended the limitation period for equal compensation claims to six years.

"Not being able to claim the pay I was entitled to is simply not right and this judgment helps me and others like me who may now be able to recover what they should have been paid over many years," said Linda Manders, 59, who worked for the council for 10 years as a lunchtime supervisor at a school.

The Birmingham Council reported it was "disappointed" and is considering filing an appeal in the coming days.

Similar cases were filed in 2007 and 2008, when tens of thousands of pounds were paid to female ex-employees as compensation, revealed Leigh Day & Co., the firm representing the 174 women in this case.