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#MeToo, Microsoft? Big Numbers in Gender Discrimination Case

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on March 15, 2018 11:20 AM

Women at Microsoft in U.S.-based technical jobs filed 238 internal complaints about gender discrimination or sexual harassment between 2010 and 2016, according to newly released court records.

In a proposed class action, the plaintiffs cite the numbers to allege the company routinely denies pay raises and promotions to women. With up to 8,000 possible plaintiffs, the numbers are daunting.

For a company with 124,000 workers worldwide, however, the complaints represent less than two tenths of a percent of the total workforce. Still, in the #MeToo times, it's enough to make general counsel take a second look.

One Was "Founded"

The revelations about Microsoft's internal complaints came out through discovery. The case, Moussouris v. Microsoft Corporation, was filed in Seattle in 2015, but a trial date has not been set.

After the disclosures, Microsoft said it had a "robust system" to investigate complaints. The company said it spends more than $55 million a hear to promote diversity.

However, the court filings showed the company deemed only one woman's discrmination claim "founded" in 118 gender discrimination complaints..

Reuters reported that attorneys for the plaintiffs said the number of complaints was "shocking," and the company's investigations were "lackluster."

"Sexualized by Male Managers"

Michael Subit, who represents the class plaintiff, said that Microsoft's culture is "rife with sexual harrassment."

"Company records indicate that women at Microsoft are sexualized by their male managers and coworkers, leading to a substantial number of incidents of alleged sexual harassment, and even several incidents of sexual assault, that often go unpunished," he wrote in seeking class certification.

Among female tech workers in the United States, he said, Microsoft received 108 complaints of sexual harassment, 119 of gender discrimination, eight of retaliation, and three of pregnancy discrimination.

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