Silicon Valley, like so many other industries, has been rocked by lawsuits and accusations of sexual harassment in recent months. Joining companies like Tinder, Uber, and Google, a lawsuit filed against Microsoft has brought to light the gender discrimination and sexual harassment complaints filed by over 200 female employees.
According to court filings, between 2010 and 2016, 238 women working in technical-based jobs for Microsoft in the U.S. filed internal complaints. The figure was exposed by a plaintiff in a suit that alleges Microsoft systematically denied pay raises and promotions for women. The plaintiff’s attorneys are attempting to proceed as a class action lawsuit, which could potentially cover as many as 8,000 women. In the documents, which come from Microsoft’s human resources department, only one of the 118 gender discrimination complaints was described as “founded” by the company. Plaintiff’s attorneys countered that the sheer number of complaints was “shocking” and characterized the response by the company as “lackluster.” Via CNBC:
Microsoft said in court filings that the plaintiffs did not identify practices that impact enough employees to warrant a class action, and that it spends more than $55 million per year to promote diversity and inclusion. The company had about 74,000 U.S. employees at the end of last year.
Microsoft 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.
In the past, Microsoft argued that the number of complaints filed by women should be kept undisclosed because publicizing the number could discourage women at the company from filing complaints in the future. The court disagreed. U.S. District Judge James Robart is expected to rule on the plaintiff’s class action status soon.