USA: Female employees to sue Microsoft over alleged gender discrimination & sexual harassment

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Article
24 September 2018

USA: Court of appeals agrees to reconsider denial of class action status for gender discrimination lawsuit against Microsoft

Author: Becky Peterson, Business Insider

"A gender discrimination lawsuit against Microsoft could see new light as court agrees to reconsider class action status for 8,600 current and former employees", 21 Sep 2018

A gender discrimination lawsuit against Microsoft first filed in 2015 could see new light following an appeals court's decision...to reconsider a lower court ruling denying class action status...The plaintiffs were denied class action status on June 25, by a district court in the state of Washington...which...argued that the plaintiffs failed to make their case that the women's experiences affected an entire class of people.  If the Ninth Circuit overturns the lower court ruling and grants class certification, it would represent a significant victory for the plaintiffs...The plaintiffs are seeking to certify a class of more than 8,600 women in various Microsoft offices across the US and seeking compensatory and punitive damages.  Microsoft said in a statement that "we continue to believe that the judge made the right decision in denying class certification..."  Microsoft has until January 31, 2019 to file its opposition...

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Article
25 June 2018

Judge blocks effort to expand Microsoft gender-bias case to thousands of women

Author: Rachel Lerman, Seattle Times (USA)

A federal judge in Seattle denied a motion to broadly expand a gender-discrimination lawsuit against Microsoft, dealing a blow to a group of women suing the company who had hoped to add thousands of plaintiffs to the case.  The plaintiffs in the case, Moussouris v Microsoft, had been seeking permission from the judge to create a class-action suit.  That would have made it possible for more than 8,600 women to join the case and potentially get damages from the company.  U.S. District Judge James Robart denied the class-action motion Monday...In a statement..., Microsoft said the judge made the “right decision.”  “We remain committed to increasing diversity and making sure that Microsoft is a workplace where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed,” a company spokesperson said...Robart’s decision does not dismiss the lawsuit against Microsoft, which can still proceed with the named plaintiffs.

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Article
12 June 2018

USA: Judge to decide on whether more than 8,600 women can join gender discrimination lawsuit against Microsoft

Author: Matt Day, The Seattle Times (USA)

"Judge in Microsoft gender discrimination case has tough questions for women’s lawyers", 11 June 2018

Lawyers for a group of women suing Microsoft for gender discrimination faced tough questions from a federal judge in Seattle on Monday about whether their clients — and the thousands of women they seek to represent in court — had enough in common to justify a class-action case...Monday’s hearing...came 999 days after Katherine Moussouris, a cybersecurity engineer, first sued the company in September 2015, alleging that she had been passed up for raises and promotions in favor of less qualified men.  She was subsequently joined by two other women, and at issue during the hearing on Monday was their motion to include in the suit some 8,600 women who worked in technology jobs at the company in the U.S. since 2012.  U.S. District Judge James Robart asked probing questions concerning what caused the alleged discrimination, and whether there were strong enough ties between women there to meet the standards for a jointly argued case.  Kelly Dermody, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said Microsoft managers were given little guidance on how to apportion pay and promotions, allowing discriminatory behavior to slip in...The judge didn’t rule on the matter on Monday, and didn’t specify when he would.  Many companies have used the precedent from the Walmart case to fend off class-action lawsuits, and Lynne Hermle, an attorney at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe representing Microsoft, did the same Monday, repeatedly citing the case’s standard and saying plaintiffs failed to show Microsoft policies had caused unfair treatment.

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Article
16 March 2018

Microsoft hits back at claims it ignored sexual harassment

Author: Dan Levine, Salvador Rodriguez, Reuters

A senior executive said Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) thoroughly investigates issues raised by women in the workplace and fired about 20 employees last year over complaints of sexual harassment as the company seeks to counter claims that it treats female workers unfairly.  In an email to employees publicly released late on Thursday, Microsoft Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan said Microsoft had 83 harassment complaints in 2017 out of a U.S.-based workforce of over 65,000 employees.  Nearly 50 percent were found to be supported at least in part following an investigation, she said, and more than half of those resulted in the termination of an employee who engaged in unacceptable behavior.  The unusual publication of such data comes as the world’s largest software company is defending a lawsuit which alleges it systematically denied pay raises or promotions to women.  Microsoft denies it has ever had such a policy...Microsoft also investigated 84 complaints of gender discrimination last year, Hogan said, and found around 10 percent of those to be supported at least in part...Hogan’s email...said the numbers cited by plaintiffs were misleading...Hogan’s email did not provide additional figures about the time period cited in the court documents...

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Article
14 March 2018

'Women at Microsoft are sexualized by their male managers,' lawsuit alleges

Author: Ofshore Technology International (India)

According to a newly unsealed court filing, women at Microsoft who work in technical jobs filed 238 internal complaints pertaining to gender discrimination or sexual harassment from 2010 through 2016.  The figures were revealed as part of a proposed class-action lawsuit originally filed in 2015 (Moussouris v. Microsoft).  The female plaintiffs argue that the company’s internal rating system discriminates against women and disfavors professional advancement for women.  As part of the class certification process and civil discovery, Microsoft handed over years of records to the plaintiffs’ lawyers.  In the Monday-released filing...Moussouris’ lawyer, Michael Subit, wrote that “Microsoft’s Culture is Rife with Sexual Harassment”...Specifically, Subit continued, Microsoft’s internal unit (known as “ERIT”) received 108 complaints of sexual harassment filed by female US-based technical employees, 119 complaints of gender discrimination, eight complaints of retaliation, and three complaints of pregnancy discrimination.  Out of all of the claimed instances of gender discrimination, Microsoft’s internal investigation only found that one such complaint was “founded.”...In December 2017, Microsoft said it would end forced arbitration for employees who file sexual harassment claims...

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Article
13 March 2018

Lawsuit claims sexual harassment rife in Microsoft's 'boys' club atmosphere'

Author: Olivia Solon, The Guardian

Microsoft handled 238 internal complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination in a “lacklustre” way, according to court documents published this week.  Between 2010 and 2016, women in technical jobs at the company lodged 108 complaints of sexual harassment, 119 complaints of gender discrimination, eight complaints of retaliation and three complaints of pregnancy discrimination.  The plaintiffs accuse the world’s largest software company of systematically denying pay rises or promotions to women and has an “exclusionary ‘boys’ club’ atmosphere” that is “rife with sexual harassment”.  At least three women reported sexual assault or rape by male co-workers, including a female intern who alleged rape by a male intern, reported the rape to the police as well as her supervisor and HR, and yet was forced to work alongside her accused rapist.  The plaintiffs allege that the software company’s human resources department failed to properly investigate and redress complaints...[A]fter investigating more than a hundred complaints of gender discrimination, Microsoft concluded that only one was “founded”...The company had also argued that the number of complaints should not be released as they might deter people from reporting future abuses...

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Article
13 March 2018

Microsoft women filed 238 discrimination and harassment complaints

Author: Dan Levine, Reuters

Women at Microsoft Corp working in U.S.-based technical jobs filed 238 internal complaints about gender discrimination or sexual harassment between 2010 and 2016, according to court filings...The figure was cited by plaintiffs suing Microsoft for systematically denying pay raises or promotions to women...Microsoft denies it had any such policy...Plaintiffs’ attorneys are pushing to proceed as a class action lawsuit, which could cover more than 8,000 women...The two sides are exchanging documents ahead of trial, which has not been scheduled.  Out of 118 gender discrimination complaints filed by women at Microsoft, only one was deemed “founded” by the company, according to the unsealed court filings...Microsoft said the plaintiffs cannot cite one example of a pay or promotion problem in which Microsoft’s investigations team should have found a violation of company policy but did not.  U.S. District Judge James Robart has not yet ruled on the plaintiffs’ request for class action status...Microsoft had argued that the number of womens’ human resources complaints should be secret because publicizing the outcomes could deter employees from reporting future abuses...

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