The Microsoft logo is shown on the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California, U.S., June 13, 2017.
Microsoft handled 238 internal complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination in a "lacklustre" way, according to court documents published this week. Three women, current and former Microsoft employees, are suing the company, alleging systemic gender discrimination against women in engineering jobs that led to lower pay and a stunted pace of promotions.
The suit alleges that women working in USA -based technical positions at the company were denied promotions and/or pay raises because of an internal rating system that discriminated against female workers. 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.
Microsoft denies it had any such policy in place, but the plaintiff's attorneys are seeking to proceed the case as a class action lawsuit that would cover more 8,000 women out of Microsoft's total United States workforce of 74,000 employees. More details about Microsoft's human resources practices were made public on Monday in legal filings submitted as part of that process.More news: Dog dies after being placed in overhead compartment during United flight
Although the trial has not been scheduled yet, the two sides of exchanging documents are available to the public.
Companies generally keep information about internal discrimination complaints private, so it is unclear how the number of complaints at Microsoft compares to competitors.
Microsoft has denied the claims from the lawsuit, saying it didn't engage in wage discrimination and noted in court filings that it spends $55 million each year on diversity and inclusion efforts.
In a statement on Tuesday, Microsoft said it had a robust system to investigate concerns raised by its employees, and that it wanted them to speak up.More news: Laredo Petroleum (NYSE:LPI) Receives Media Sentiment Rating of 0.19
In the latest document, which is a motion to bring the case as a class action, the plaintiffs claimed Microsoft's investigations team is "notorious... for "rubber-stamping" management", while employees have "little faith" in investigations.
Microsoft said the plaintiffs can not 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.
Microsoft's case is one of many piling up against giant companies in the technology industry, which has come under fire in recent years for its dearth of female and minority employees and for its culture, which some say is hostile toward those groups.
U.S. District Judge James Robart has not yet ruled on the plaintiffs' request for class action status.More news: Dog Killed After United Flight Attendant Forces Him Into Overhead Bin
Microsoft argued the number of complaints from women to human resources should be kept under wraps because it could discourage others from reporting incidents in the future.