Microsoft women filed over 200 discrimination, harassment complaints

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The court documents are part of a gender discrimination lawsuit against Microsoft filed in 2015 by Katherine Moussouris, a computer security researcher who worked at the company from 2007-2014.

According to a newly unsealed court filing, women at Microsoft who work in technical jobs filed 238 internal complaints pertaining to gender discrimination or sexual harassment from 2010 through 2016. Three women, current and former Microsoft employees, are suing the company, alleging systemic gender discrimination against women in engineering jobs that led to lower pay and a stunted pace of promotions.

According to Reuters, plaintiffs' attorneys are pushing to proceed as a class action lawsuit, which could cover more than 8,000 women.

The company's human resources practices were highlighted in the documents made public Monday.

Court documents indicate women at Microsoft filed more than 200 complaints about gender discrimination or sexual harassment between 2010 and 2016.

Microsoft's case is one of many piling up against giant companies in the technology industry, which has come under fire in recent years for its dearth of female and minority employees and for its culture, which some say is hostile toward those groups.

However, Microsoft's opposition to the motion said that it spends $55m a year on "innovative diversity and inclusion programs".

Attorneys for the women called the number of complaints "shocking" in the court filings and the response by Microsoft's investigations team "lackluster". For example, four female employees raised separate complaints of sexual harassment against a male employee at a Microsoft event, yet ERIT found no policy violation despite concluding that the accused harasser touched all four women in a manner that made them feel uncomfortable.

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 review also showed the companies used "common civil litigation tactics to keep potentially damning information under wraps". "We want employees to speak up if they have concerns and we strive to make it easy for them to do so", said a Microsoft spokeswoman.

Microsoft is arguing against the lawsuit being turned into a class action lawsuit, and said the plaintiffs can not 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.