Birmingham City Council has lost its appeal against a landmark ruling over discriminatory pay.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld a decision that the council had discriminated against female workers.
It is thought the ruling could cost Birmingham City Council up to £80m in back pay. The council said it will consider matters further before deciding whether to mount another challenge.
The workers in question - thought to number up to 5,000 - were employed as cleaners, cooks, care assistants and caretakers. They claimed they were discriminated against in relation to bonuses paid to male workers on the same pay grade.
A spokesman for the authority said the council was “disappointed” with the decision but said it would be reviewing the details of the judgment in full before deciding whether to pursue the matter any further. He added the council had since introduced a revised pay structure in line with the Equal Opportunity Commission’s guidelines.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “Thousands of women are now one step closer to getting the equal pay compensation they deserve.
“It really is time for Birmingham City Council to drop the expensive legal challenges and settle these claims. Given the huge cuts hitting Birmingham, it is a disgrace that the council is frittering money away on these petty challenges. What’s more, these low paid women have waited long enough for pay justice.”