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Microsoft has become the latest tech company to be hit with a gender discrimination lawsuit, the first one against the company. The question of whether or not women are being systematically discriminated against in the tech industry was brought to wider attention by the highly publicized case of Ellen Pao suing her former employer Kleiner Perkins. Although the jury found Kleiner Perkins not liable for gender discrimination, much of the media coverage surrounding the case has portrayed Pao as a hero for bringing attention to the issue. Earlier in the year, gender discrimination lawsuits were also filed against Facebook and Twitter.

The case against Microsoft was filed by Katherine Moussouris, a former technician for the company. She began working for Microsoft in 2009 and resigned in 2014 after her complaints about discrimination were ignored. The case filed by Moussouris states that Microsoft employees are given a numerical rankings based on performance evaluations, and women were given lower rankings based on subjective criteria. She claims to have been passed over for promotion in favor of less qualified men.

Moussouris is seeking a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all female US-based technical Microsoft employees, who have been employed since 2009. It is unknown at this time how many people are eligible to be part of that class. The exact damages that are being sought by the lawsuit would be dependent on how large the class is, but the lawsuit suggests the damages would be in excess of $5 million.

Microsoft may be considered an easy target for a gender discrimination case, after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was criticized last year for publicly stating that women in tech should not ask for pay raises, but trust that companies will pay them fairly. He later apologized and maintained that Microsoft paid women and men equally. Ellen Pao herself later put Nadella’s statement into action during her time as CEO of Reddit, by ending all salary negotiations with employees. This policy doesn’t merely ask women to trust companies to pay them fairly, it requires it, by taking away any means of obtaining better a better salary than the one the employer proposes.

Does the tech industry, in general, systematically discriminate against women? Leave your comments below.

 


Max Michael

Senior Writer

I’m a technology reporter located near the Innovation District of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario.