Hundreds of women in Microsoft complain of sexual harassment

Microsoft said the plaintiffs cannot 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

A Microsoft logo is seen a day after Microsoft Corp's $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn Corp in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on June 14, 2016.

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.

This figure was outlined by plaintiffs who were denied pay raises and promotions in the world's largest software company. Microsoft denies it had any such policy. 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.

Plaintiff's attorneys are now pushing to proceed as a class action lawsuit, and a trial has not been schedule yet. Along with the number of complaints filed, human resource practices were released publicly in a legal filling submitted on Monday.

Out of 118 gender discrimination complaints filed by women at Microsoft, only one was deemed "founded" by the company, according to details in the unsealed court filings.

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The case was first filed in 2015 and the lead plaintiffs, Katherine Moussouris and Holly Muenchow, are seeking approval to bring the suit as a class action covering more than 8,600 women. Average data for discrimination complaints at companies are hard to know since they are not usually publicly reported.

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

"While 238 complaints lodged with HR by professional women making careers at a Fortune 50 company is shocking enough, what is even more disappointing is the lackluster response to the issues raised by the Microsoft team ("ERIT") tasked with investigating complaints of Microsoft's anti-discrimination and antiharassment policy", the document said.

A Microsoft spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment. Microsoft outlined that the number of human resources complaints from female employees need to be kept private, because disclosing the outcomes would restrain employees from reporting abuses in the future.

A court-appointed official found that scenario "far too remote a competitive or business harm" to justify keeping the information sealed.

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