Microsoft Sued for Gender Discrimination

USA Today Jessica Guynn
September 16, 2015

A former employee is suing Microsoft, alleging the technology giant discriminates against women in technical roles.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Seattle by Katie Moussouris who says female technical employees at Microsoft are paid less and promoted less frequently than men and that their performance was ranked below that of men.

Microsoft policies and practices “systematically violate female technical employees’ rights and result in the unchecked gender bias that pervades its corporate culture,” charges the lawsuit, which is seeking class action status.

We’re committed to a diverse workforce, and to a workplace where all employees have the chance to succeed,” Microsoft said in an emailed statement. “We’ve previously reviewed the plaintiff’s allegations about her specific experience and did not find anything to substantiate those claims, and we will carefully review this new complaint.”

Moussouris, a well-known figure in the Internet security field,  left Microsoft in 2014 and is the chief policy officer for HackerOne, a computer-security bounty firm.

She says she worked for Microsoft in Redmond, Washington for more than seven years on Microsoft’s security bounty programs, which offered prize money to researchers who uncovered security flaws, and handled public outreach on vulnerabilities, according to her LinkedIn page.

Her contention: an employee evaluation process called stack ranking disadvantaged women compared to “similarly situated male employees.”

The lawsuit is the latest to go after major technology companies for gender discrimination.

Similar lawsuits were filed against Facebook and Twitter earlier this year.

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Microsoft, like other major technology companies, is wrestling with gender imbalance.  At Microsoft, 72% of the employees, 83% of the technical workers and 83% of the leadership are men.

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CEO Satya Nadella had to apologize last year after suggesting that women don’t need to ask for raises and should just trust that companies will pay them what they are worth.  The remarks sparked a global backlash.

In an effort to repair the damage, Nadella  noted that his remarks about women and pay raises “was just plain wrong” and  announced Microsoft employees would receive expanded training on building an inclusive work culture.

At the time, Nadella said he would also work to increase the number of women and underrepresented  minorities in the company. Microsoft also revealed that female employees in the USA earn 99.7% of what men earned in similar positions in 2013.

“We must ensure not only that everyone receives equal pay for equal work, but that they have the opportunity to do equal work,” Nadella said in a October 2014 memo.