Microsoft Women Filed More Than 200 Harassment and Discrimination Complaints

The Microsoft logo is shown on the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles California US

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.

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".

Microsoft's stock closed at $94.41 per share on Tuesday.

Microsoft handled 238 internal complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination in a "lacklustre" way, according to court documents published this week.

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 U.S. workforce of 74,000 employees. Microsoft denies it had any such policy.

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

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

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. The firm claims that plaintiffs could not cite an example in which company policy was violated as regards pay raises and promotions. Of course, Microsoft refutes the claims and only deems one of the gender discrimination complaints out of 118 of them "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. Microsoft adds that the plaintiffs have not identified practices "that impact enough employees" to warrant a class action lawsuit against it.

A Microsoft spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

Microsoft had argued the numbers shouldn't be released as they might deter it from reporting future abuses, but Reuters reported that a court-appointed official said this was "far too remote a competitive or business harm".

U.S. District Judge James Robart is hearing the case in U.S. District Court in Seattle and is expected to decide on the class-action request in the next several months. Google also faces a similar complaint from women who taught employees' children at the company's childcare centre.

Top Vole Satya Nadella put his foot in it when he told a women's conference that: "it's not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise".

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