Microsoft’s Building 92. Wikimedia/Photo by Coolcaesar

Microsoft’s Building 92. Wikimedia/Photo by Coolcaesar

Judge throws out class action petition in Microsoft lawsuit

A lawsuit filed against Microsoft sought to unite more than 8,600 women in a discrimination case.

A federal judge has struck down a request from the attorneys representing three women seeking a class-action lawsuit against Microsoft for alleged discrimination.

The sealed order came from U.S. District Judge James L. Robart on Monday, which barred the lawsuit form proceeding as a class action lawsuit, which would have encompassed more than 8,600 female employees. The original lawsuit was filed in the Western District of Washington federal court on behalf of three female plaintiffs who are all current or former employees of the Redmond-based tech giant.

The plaintiffs are represented by Leiff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, who had not returned a request for comment at the time of publication.

For its part, a Microsoft spokesperson issued a short statement in an email that read: “We remain committed to increasing diversity and making sure that Microsoft is a workplace where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. The judge made the right decision that this case should not be a class action.”

However, court documents allege a pattern of discrimination against female employees in technical and engineering roles at Microsoft. They are centered around allegations of unfair treatment in performance valuations, pay and promotions in addition to sexual harassment and an unresponsive human resources division. The complaint alleges that women retaliate against female employees who complain about discrimination and that women receive less compensation than their male counterparts due to a lack of equitable promotions.

Through 2013, the lawsuit said Microsoft used a “stack ranking” system to evaluate employee performance. It ranked employees from 1 through 5 with 1 being the best score. The lawsuit alleges this system undervalued women employees, leading to less promotions and raises during the bi-annual rankings. The lawsuit alleges women tended to receive lower scores than their male peers despite having equal or better performance during the same period.

Pay at Microsoft is largely based on a tiered system, where the higher an employee climbs based on promotions, the more they earn.

“Overall, Microsoft promotes an overwhelmingly disproportionate number of men, and passes over equally or more qualified women,” the lawsuit read.

The original lawsuit sought a class action lawsuit and a trial by jury. The claims were amended earlier this year with more information, including an estimate that women over a four year period ending in 2016 in engineering and IT jobs had been underpaid by between $100 to $238 million.

More than 500 fewer promotions were given to women than men with the same characteristics and more than 230 human resources complaints alleging gender discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation were filed, the lawsuit read. Of some 118 complaints filed dealing with gender discrimination, Microsoft’s human resources department concluded that only one was founded, the lawsuit alleges.

It additionally described a “boy’s club” corporate culture where women were called slurs, groped frequently and harassed.

The lawsuit sought a halt to discrimination and harassment, the institution of policies that provide equal opportunities for all employees and an order that Microsoft pay restitution and additional penalties for damages.

More in News

Washington’s attorney general talks veterans, guns and suing Trump

Bob Ferguson visited the Redmond Rotary Club on Nov. 15.

King County Flood Control District approves 2019 Budget on Nov. 5. Photo courtesy of King County Flood Control District.
King County Flood Control District approves $93 million budget

The 2019 District Budget will maintain current flood protection services.

Vader served the Redmond Police Department for more than seven years and enjoyed a four-year retirement as the Hovenden family pet. Photos courtesy of RPD
Former Redmond police K-9 Vader, dies at 13

Vader served the department for more than 7 years and spent his retirement as a full-time family pet.

Sarah Yount, former YES client, speaks at YES’s 50th anniversary celebration on Nov. 2. Madison Miller/staff photo.
Youth Eastside Services celebrates 50 years

YES celebrates 50 years of providing youth and family behavioral health services.

Sky Metalwala has been missing for seven years. Photo courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Police plead for help in search for missing boy

Sky has been missing since Nov. 6, 2011 and turned 9 years old on Sept. 2.

Suspect arrested after stealing paychecks | Police blotter

The Redmond police blotter from Oct. 22 through 24. Courtesy of the RPD blog.

Kuderer leads Tom; Walen over Bright

Legislative District 48 race. Results are preliminary.

Democrats lead in 45th Legislative District

Dhingra, Goodman and Springer earned about two thirds of the vote.

DelBene leads in 1st Congressional District in early returns

As of election night, incumbent Suzan DelBene was leading with 69 percent of the vote, to Jeffrey Beeler’s 31 percent.

King County property assessments have begun for some Eastside neighborhoods

County property appraisers visit around one-sixth of all properties in the county each year to ensure the homes are valued correctly.

Prowlers smash windows, steal wallets, handbags | Police blotter

The Redmond police blotter for Oct. 12 through 14.

Safeco Field funding referendum withdrawn

The mysterious backers of the initiative won’t say why, but some think it’s because they couldn’t get funding to gather the necessary signatures.