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Microsoft Hit By 238 Discrimination, Harassment Complaints

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Not just Google. Microsoft female staff have filed over two hundred complaints in six year period

Microsoft is the latest tech giant to be at the centre of discrimination complaints from its staff, after it emerged that the software giant has been hit with hundreds of complaints.

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.

Fellow tech giant Google has also been rocked by a series of complaints recently, a move that provided an rare insight into internal tensions within its workforce.

Sexual harassment women work office © Shutterstock Piotr Marcinski

Discrimination complaints

The Microsoft complaints however came to light as a result of a lawsuit filed in 2015 in a Seattle federal court against the company.

The plaintiffs allege that Microsoft has systematically denied pay raises or promotions to women.

Microsoft denies it had any such policy in place, but the plaintiff’s attorneys are seeking to proceed the case as a class action lawsuit that would cover more 8,000 women out of Microsoft’s total US workforce of 74,000 employees.

That said, a trial has not yet been scheduled, and US District Judge James Robart has not yet ruled on the plaintiffs’ request for class action status.

The number of discrimination, harassment complaints being 2010 and 2016 were revealed in court documents for this case.

What has emerged is that out of 118 gender discrimination complaints filed by women at Microsoft, only one was deemed“founded” by the company.

The plaintiffs attorneys have called the number of complaints“shocking” in the court filings and the response by Microsoft’s investigations team“lackluster,” according to Reuters.

Microsoft is arguing against the lawsuit being turned into a class action lawsuit, and 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.

Nadella controversy

Matters have not been helped after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella landed himself in hot water in 2014 for saying that women didn’t need to ask for a raise and should just trust the system to pay them well.

satya nadella microsoft memo

“It’s not really about asking for the raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will actually give you the right raises as you go along,” Nadella said. “Because that’s good karma. It’ll come back because somebody’s going to know that’s the kind of person that I want to trust.”

Nadella’s comments prompted uproar on social media at the time, and Microsoft quickly rushed out a response in which Nadella admitted he had been “completely wrong.”

Google issues

Meanwhile Google has also been rocked by a number of high profile legal filings.

Its latest lawsuit came from one of Google’s former recruiters, Arne Wilberg, after he claimed he was fired for ignoring company orders to reject white and Asian male job applicants.

Last month Google was hit with another discrimination lawsuit after Tim Chevalier alleged he was fired for his liberal political activism whilst working for the company.

And in January this year software engineer James Damore also sued Google for allegedly discriminating against conservative white males. Google had famously fired Damore in August 2017, after his memo last year criticised the company’s diversity programme.

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