A judge has granted class-action status to a lawsuit claiming Bay Area software giant Oracle paid women less than men in several job categories.

The ruling opens the way for more than 4,000 women who work or worked at the Redwood City company in product development, information technology and support functions to join the suit.

Evidence from a UC Irvine economist, whose report Oracle tried and failed to get tossed from the case, alleged that women in those job areas received compensation averaging $13,000 less per year than similarly situated men.

Oracle, asked about the class-action ruling, said in a statement, “This is just a procedural step unrelated to the merits of the case and we look forward to trying those in court.”

The suit was filed in 2017 in San Mateo County Superior Court by engineers Rong Jewett, Sophy Wang and Xian Murray, with three additional plaintiffs joining later.

Judge V. Raymond Swope, in his decision Wednesday approving the class action, noted that the women contend the alleged pay disparity arose mostly out of Oracle’s past practice of basing salaries on previous compensation, which “the California legislature has found perpetuates historical pay discrimination.” California banned that practice through a law that took effect at the start of 2018.

Damages in the case could amount to as much as $364 million, said Jim Finberg, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.