According to a newly unsealed court filing, women at Microsoft who work in technical jobs filed 238 internal complaints pertaining to gender discrimination or sexual harassment from 2010 through 2016. The new document was first reported Monday evening by Reuters.
The figures were revealed as part of a proposed class-action lawsuit originally filed in 2015 (Moussouris v. Microsoft). The female plaintiffs argue that the company’s internal rating system discriminates against women and disfavors professional advancement for women.
As part of the class certification process and civil discovery, Microsoft handed over years of records to the plaintiffs’ lawyers. In the Monday-released filing, which was originally submitted to the court in October 2017, Moussouris’ lawyer, Michael Subit, wrote that “Microsoft’s Culture is Rife with Sexual Harassment” before continuing:
'Company records indicate that women at Microsoft are sexualized by their male managers and coworkers, leading to a substantial number of incidents of alleged sexual harassment, and even several incidents of sexual assault, that often go unpunished. '
Specifically, Subit continued, Microsoft’s internal unit (known as “ERIT”) received 108 complaints of sexual harassment filed by female US-based technical employees, 119 complaints of gender discrimination, eight complaints of retaliation, and three complaints of pregnancy discrimination. Out of all of the claimed instances of gender discrimination, Microsoft’s internal investigation only found that one such complaint was “founded.”
'In fact, ERIT often concludes there is no policy violation even when all the evidence points to the contrary. For example, four female employees raised separate complaints of sexual harassment against a male employee at a Microsoft event, yet ERIT found no policy violation despite concluding that the accused harasser touched all four women in a manner that made them feel uncomfortable. In another investigation, ERIT concluded that a male employee “engaged in harassing behavior as described in Microsoft’s Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy (Sexual Harassment),” yet ERIT still perplexingly found that the behavior did not rise to the level of a policy violation.'
The ERIT team, which operates from the Redmond headquarters, also has no policies or procedures on how to conduct ERIT investigations.
In December 2017, Microsoft said it would end forced arbitration for employees who file sexual harassment claims.
Like other industries in recent months, Silicon Valley has come to reckon with abuse amongst some of its most prominent corporations and people in an entirely new way. Some individuals who have been ousted over the past year for alleged sexual misconduct include Shervin Pishevar, Robert Scoble, and Steve Jurvetson, among others.
Microsoft spokesman Scott Whiteaker emailed Ars a statement that said, “Diversity and inclusion are critically important to Microsoft.”
“We want employees to speak up if they have concerns, and we strive to make it easy for them to do so,” the statement continued. “We take all employee concerns seriously and have a fair and robust system in place to investigate employee concerns and take appropriate action when necessary.”