According to court filings made available this week, Microsoft is being accused of 238 cases of gender discrimination or sexual harassment by female employees working in US-base technical jobs. The complaints in question were made between 2010 and 2016, and include systemically denying pay increases and promotions to women working in the company. Plaintiff’s attorneys are now pushing to proceed as a class action lawsuit, and a trial has not been schedule yet.
Microsoft, in its defense, has denied all claims, saying that just one of the 118 gender discrimination complaints as “founded.” The company adds that it spends more than $55 million a year to promote diversity and inclusion. Last year, the company waived the requirement for pre-dispute arbitration agreements in sexual harassment claims, which means that victims may be more comfortable coming forward with their complaints.
While Microsoft waived the requirement, it had no bearing on the women behind the latest case. At the same time, it contradicts the company’s previous stance on making complaints publicly available. Microsoft has argued that the number of women’s Human Resources complaints must be kept under wraps because publicizing the outcomes could dissuade others from reporting any and all future issues.
US District Judge James Robart has yet to rule on the plaintiff’s request for the class action status. If the lawsuit is allowed to proceed, it could cover more than 8,000 women. Microsoft adds that the plaintiffs have not identified practices “that impact enough employees” to warrant a class action lawsuit against it. This leads us to ask the question: how many women have to be affected for meaningful to happen?