Microsoft accused of inaction on 238 gender discrimination claims

Redmond faces potential class-action lawsuit over handling of discrimination and harassment claims

Microsoft faced nearly 240 complaints of discrimination and harassment from women in technical roles between 2010 and 2016, it has been revealed.

A court filing made public on Monday as part of a 2015 lawsuit also alleges that the company systematically denied pay rises or promotions to women, all accusations that Microsoft denies.

Of the 238 complaints referenced in the filing, 118 related to gender discrimination specifically. Microsoft, however, only upheld one of them following internal investigations.

The plaintiffs' lawyers, who are attempting to proceed with a class action lawsuit that could cover more than 8,000 women, called the number of complaints "shocking", and "lacklustre" in the filing, first revealed by Reuters.

Microsoft has countered the claims by saying those taking legal action have been unable to cite a single example of a pay or promotion problem that its investigations team should have acted on but didn't.

Redmond told IT Pro "We want employees to speak up if they have concerns and we strive to make it easy for them to do so. We take all employee concerns seriously and have a fair and robust system in place to investigate employee concerns and take appropriate action when necessary."

The filing is part of a number of documents being exchanged ahead of an upcoming trial, first submitted by Microsoft for the lawsuit's discovery process in October 2017. The filing was kept secret until now as Microsoft argued making the number of complaints and their outcomes public could deter other women from coming forward to report incidents of discrimination or harassment in the future.

However, that scenario was "far too remote a competitive or business harm" to justify keeping the documents sealed, a court official found, which led to the document being made publicly available this week.

A date for the trial is yet to be set and the presiding judge is yet to rule whether or not the case can be turned into a class action.

Main image credit: Bigstock

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