Female workers go after Microsoft in class action suit Female workers go after Microsoft in class action suit

Female workers go after Microsoft in class action suit
27 Jun 2018

Women engineers and IT specialists have claimed that for years Microsoft paid them less than men, stalled their career advancement and froze them out following maternity leave.

While Microsoft has denied any discrimination, the women, who are seeking class-action status, assert that the effects of the systemic practices are continuing. 

Microsoft has denied the claims, telling Business Live that it has made "significant progress" over recent years in ensuring its workplace is diverse and inclusive. The company’s lawyers said in court papers: "Plaintiffs’ claims are simply not the stuff of which class actions are made."

The software giant uses a “uniform calibration process” to determine pay, performance and promotion prospects that the women claimed disadvantages them to a statistically significant degree. An expert for the plaintiffs estimated the pay gap between men and women for technical and engineering jobs was at least US$100 million.

The women say that Microsoft policies have led to a declining number of females holding high-level positions. For levels 59 to 60 - the lowest pay bands - 20.4% of workers are women; for levels 65-67, the proportion drops to 10.1%; at level 81 and higher, which includes corporate vice-presidents and above, there are no women at all, according to the plaintiffs.

Lead plaintiff Katherine Moussouris said: "Women were frequently interrupted or talked over at meetings. Women who shared their ideas were ignored."

Meanwhile, men who later brought up the same or similar ideas were "acknowledged and congratulated", she added.

Microsoft denies having any policies that would lead to lower pay or prospects for women and insists that it promotes fair treatment. "Hearsay anecdotes" from individuals do not qualify as proof of a policy of discrimination, it attested in court filings.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

Women engineers and IT specialists have claimed that for years Microsoft paid them less than men, stalled their career advancement and froze them out following maternity leave.

While Microsoft has denied any discrimination, the women, who are seeking class-action status, assert that the effects of the systemic practices are continuing. 

Microsoft has denied the claims, telling Business Live that it has made "significant progress" over recent years in ensuring its workplace is diverse and inclusive. The company’s lawyers said in court papers: "Plaintiffs’ claims are simply not the stuff of which class actions are made."

The software giant uses a “uniform calibration process” to determine pay, performance and promotion prospects that the women claimed disadvantages them to a statistically significant degree. An expert for the plaintiffs estimated the pay gap between men and women for technical and engineering jobs was at least US$100 million.

The women say that Microsoft policies have led to a declining number of females holding high-level positions. For levels 59 to 60 - the lowest pay bands - 20.4% of workers are women; for levels 65-67, the proportion drops to 10.1%; at level 81 and higher, which includes corporate vice-presidents and above, there are no women at all, according to the plaintiffs.

Lead plaintiff Katherine Moussouris said: "Women were frequently interrupted or talked over at meetings. Women who shared their ideas were ignored."

Meanwhile, men who later brought up the same or similar ideas were "acknowledged and congratulated", she added.

Microsoft denies having any policies that would lead to lower pay or prospects for women and insists that it promotes fair treatment. "Hearsay anecdotes" from individuals do not qualify as proof of a policy of discrimination, it attested in court filings.

 Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC.

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