Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

Microsoft Women Filed More Than 200 Harassment and Discrimination Complaints

Microsoft Women Filed More Than 200 Harassment and Discrimination Complaints

The Microsoft logo is shown on the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2017.

Female staff at Microsoft in the United States filed 238 gender discrimination and sexual harassment complaints between 2010 and 2016, court filings made public on Monday have revealed.

They have accused Microsoft of running a "common, discriminatory pay and promotions process" that is "unreliable" and "based on invalid criteria", resulting in lower pay and fewer promotions for women.

The lawsuit which was filed in Seattle federal court in 2015 is now attracting attention after a series of powerful men have been left fired or left from jobs in the media, entertainment, and politics for sexual misconduct.

Microsoft has received hundreds of harassment and discrimination complaints from female employees in recent years, according to court documents made public this week.

Currently, attorney's for the plaintiffs are gunning for a trial to proceed with their class action lawsuit.

Attorneys for the women called the number of complaints "shocking" in the court filings and the response by Microsoft's investigations team "lackluster".

Companies generally keep information about internal discrimination complaints private, making it unclear how the number of complaints at Microsoft compares to those at its competitors.

In a statement Tuesday, a Microsoft spokesperson said all employee concerns are taken seriously and that the company has a "fair and robust sysem in place" to investigate them.

The company also said it spends about $55 million annually to promote diversity and inclusion among its 74,000 USA employees.

In the latest document, which is a motion to bring the case as a class action, the plaintiffs claimed Microsoft's investigations team is "notorious... for "rubber-stamping" management", while employees have "little faith" in investigations.

Lawyers for Microsoft and the plaintiffs have been throwing legal barbs at each other in the case for more than two years, in the form of studies into the company's review and investigative practices and in testimony from experts in the fields of human resources, gender studies and workplaces. The court disagreed. U.S. District Judge James Robart is expected to rule on the plaintiff's class action status soon.

In the past, Microsoft argued that the number of complaints filed by women should be kept undisclosed because publicizing the number could discourage women at the company from filing complaints in the future.

A court-appointed official found that scenario "far too remote a competitive or business harm" to justify keeping the information sealed.

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