Microsoft finds few gender discrimination complaints valid

FILE - This July 3, 2014 file photo shows Microsoft Corp. signage outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Wash. Only one of 118 gender discrimination complaints made by women at Microsoft was found to have merit, according to unsealed court documents. The Seattle Times reports the records made public Monday, March 12, 2018, illustrate the scope of complaints from female employees in technical jobs in the U.S. between 2010 and 2016. (AP Photo Ted S. Warren, File)

SEATTLE — Only one of 118 gender discrimination complaints made by women at Microsoft was found to have merit, according to unsealed court documents.

The Seattle Times reports the records made public Monday illustrate the scope of complaints from female employees in technical jobs in the U.S. between 2010 and 2016. And according to the court documents, Microsoft's internal investigations determined only one of those complaints was "founded."

The company has denied that systemic bias is taking place through its employee-review process.

The documents were released as part of an ongoing lawsuit by three current or former Microsoft employees alleging gender discrimination.

The plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for the case, claiming more than 8,600 women collectively lost out on $238 million in pay and 500 promotions because of discrimination in the company's performance review process.

Microsoft's case is one of several against giant companies in the technology industry, which has been criticized in recent years for its lack of female and minority employees and for a workplace culture that some say is hostile toward those groups. Google, for example, is being sued by women who say they are underpaid compared to men at the company.

"Tech companies are absolutely lagging behind when it comes to gender inclusion," Dnika J. Travis, a researcher at Catalyst, a nonprofit that promotes inclusive workplaces for women, said in a statement.

The plaintiffs in the Microsoft case argue that men in similar roles with similar job performance were promoted faster and given more raises than their female colleagues.

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.

In court documents, Microsoft also has stood behind its internal investigative process, which involves a four-person team that looks into each complaint filed with the company. In a statement Tuesday, a Microsoft said all employee concerns are taken seriously and that the company has a "fair and robust system in place" to investigate them.

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.

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Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com

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