Microsoft Women Filed More Than 200 Harassment and Discrimination Complaints

REUTERS  Lucas Jackson                       Allison O'Mahoney speaks at a live Microsoft event in the Manhattan borough of New York City U.S

REUTERS Lucas Jackson Allison O'Mahoney speaks at a live Microsoft event in the Manhattan borough of New York City U.S

More than 230 internal complaints of harassment and discrimination within Microsoft were handled in a "lackluster" way by the business, according to documents made public yesterday in a class action lawsuit.

According to court filings made public Monday and reported by Reuters, women working in USA -based technical jobs filed 238 internal complaints of gender discrimination or sexual harassment to the tech giant between 2010 and 2016. They allege Microsoft "systematically" denied "pay raises or promotions to women", Reuters reported. But Microsoft refused that it has any such policy that encourages such behavior.

The lawsuit, filed in Seattle federal court in 2015, is attracting wider attention after a series of powerful men have left or been fired from their jobs in entertainment, the media and politics for sexual misconduct. Along with the number of complaints filed, human resource practices were released publicly in a legal filling submitted on Monday.

The two sides are exchanging documents ahead of trial, which has not been scheduled.

Microsoft said the plaintiffs can not 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.

The plaintiffs claimed Microsoft "does not properly investigate or redress" such complaints, and note only one of the gender discrimination complaints was "founded". Last year, the company waived the requirement for pre-dispute arbitration agreements in sexual harassment claims, which means that victims may be more comfortable coming forward with their complaints. Average data for discrimination complaints at companies are hard to know since they are not usually publicly reported.

Microsoft said the plaintiffs' claims are not enough to warrant a class action lawsuit and claimed the company spent $55 million a year to "promote diversity and inclusion".

A Microsoft spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

US District Judge James Robart has yet to rule on the plaintiff's request for the class action status. The review also showed the companies used "common civil litigation tactics to keep potentially damning information under wraps". Microsoft outlined that the number of human resources complaints from female employees need to be kept private, because disclosing the outcomes would restrain employees from reporting abuses in the future.

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