Birmingham City Council has been accused of taking so long to settle equal pay claims that former staff have died before receiving their settlements.
Law firm Equal Pay Legal today accused the town hall of ‘dragging its feet’ over wage payouts, adding that thousands of people were left waiting years for the settlements.
The no win, no fee firm is currently pursuing claims on behalf of 2,500 current and former local authority employees who were found to have been discriminated against up to 2010.
A landmark court case saw Birmingham admit numerous members of staff – mainly female cooks, cleaners and carers – had been unfairly denied access to regular bonuses extended to traditionally male-dominated jobs such as refuse collectors and road workers.
Equal Pay Legal expects the number of claims against the council could rise above 3,000.
Yet the firm’s legal director Darren Smith told The Birmingham Post: ‘The council should stop dragging its feet over settlements and put a team of people on this to sort it out.
‘Our clients have been made to wait too long and the backlog is growing. We even have cases where someone has died waiting.’
Birmingham has denied claims that it sold off its NEC Group of exhibition centres last year to cover the cost of the equal pay settlements.
Smith added: ‘The council might say we are just acting in our own interests but we are representing people who have been discriminated against and denied their right to fair pay.
‘As a public authority, the council, more than most, should uphold the law and has a responsibility to apply it properly. In these cases, they haven't.
‘Instead, they have taken on three court cases against their own staff and lost every single one and now they are dragging their feet on settlements.’
A Birmingham City Council spokesperson said: ‘This is part of an ongoing legal process and, as such, it would be inappropriate to comment at this stage.’