Microsoft on the spot over sexual harassment complaints by women employees

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

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

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.

According to court filings made public Monday and reported by Reuters, women working in us -based technical jobs filed 238 internal complaints of gender discrimination or sexual harassment to the tech giant between 2010 and 2016.

The lawsuit which was filed in Seattle federal court in 2015 is now attracting attention after a series of powerful men have been left fired or left from jobs in the media, entertainment, and politics for sexual misconduct. The plaintiffs accused Microsoft of routinely passing over female employees for promotions or pay raises.

The plaintiff's attorneys are hoping the suit can proceed as a class action lawsuit, which might "cover more than 8,000 women".

Specifically, Subit continued, Microsoft's internal unit (known as "ERIT") received 108 complaints of sexual harassment filed by female US-based technical employees, 119 complaints of gender discrimination, eight complaints of retaliation, and three complaints of pregnancy discrimination. More details about Microsoft's human resources practices were made public on Monday in legal filings submitted as part of that process.

According to Reuters, 118 of those complaints were for gender discrimination, but only a single one was deemed "founded" by Microsoft human resources.

Microsoft has said a class action isn't warranted because there is no common cause for the employees' complaints and plaintiffs have not identified systemic gender discrimination.

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.

Attorneys for the women described the number of complaints as "shocking" in the court filings, and said the response by Microsoft's investigations team was "lacklustre". In a statement Tuesday, a Microsoft spokesperson said all employee concerns are taken seriously and that the company has a "fair and robust sysem in place" to investigate them.

Microsoft has since denied the allegations, saying the plaintiffs have yet to find an instance of a promotion which violated company standards. The United States Judge James Robart is yet to rule on the plaintiffs' request for class-action status.

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.

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