Women working at Microsoft Corp., in technical jobs based in the U.S. filed 238 internal complains over sexual harassment and gender discrimination from 2010 to 2016, showed court documents that became public Monday.
That figure was used by plaintiffs that have sued Microsoft for what they say systematically denying raises in pay or promotions to females at the largest software company in the world. Microsoft has denied that any kind of policy like that existed.
The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Seattle back in 2015, has attracted much more attention following a series of powerful males being fired or leaving their jobs in the media, entertainment and political arena for sexual misconduct.
The attorneys representing the plaintiffs have pushed to proceed with the complaint as a class action one, which could represent as many as 8,000 women. On Monday, other details about practices by human resources in Microsoft were released in legal filings that were submitted as part of the case.
The two parties have been exchanging documents prior to the trial, which does not have a start date scheduled. Of the 118 complaints of gender discrimination filed at Microsoft by women, only one has been deemed to be “founded” by Microsoft.
The attorneys for the women have called the number of individual complaints shocking.
Companies usually keep data about internal complaints over discrimination private, so it is not clear how that number at Microsoft compares against other competitors.
Microsoft in one of its court filings said the plaintiffs did not make any identification of practices that impact enough employees for there to be a class action suit.
Microsoft added that it spends over $55 million annually to promote inclusion and diversity. The software giant has 74,000 employees in the U.S. at the end of 2017.
Microsoft said plaintiffs cannot cite a single example of a promotion or pay problem in which the investigation team of the company should have found to be in violation of policies sent by the company, but did not.
A spokesperson for Microsoft was not available for comment. The judge presiding over the case has not ruled yet on the request by plaintiffs for a status of class action.
A review of the of cases in federal courts filed from 2006 to 2016 reveals there were dozens that contain allegations of sexual harassment where businesses sued civil litigation to maintain possibly damning data under wraps.