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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.



  • ArsCortica

    May she could team up with Ellen Pao…oh, that’s right. Pao’s gender discrimination lawsuit blew up in her face when it was revealed that the supposed discrimination was not based on her being female but on her having an insufferable personality.

    I’m curious how this particular case will turn out.

  • Typical

    Well let’s see, she’s going class action because then MS will be more inclined to just write off a number in a settlement rather than having to prove her own individual cases in court. Yeah, she sounds like she’s got firm footing.

  • Dindu Nuffin

    Guys!

    It doesn’t MATTER whether she was discriminated against! It only matters that the POSSIBILITY of discrimination exists!

    Why, if discrimination in general DOES exist, somewhere, then she MUST have been discriminated against here too!! Don’t you see!!!

    Listen! And believe!

    Now pay up.

  • Booz

    make your bets, how many more frivolous lawsuits failing from leeches seeking easy money this time under this gender excuse will we see before they only manage to prove there’s no discrimination and stop wasting people’s time and money ?

  • Garbagio Dumpsterino

    It could be true, don’t make a decision before we have all the facts. Her claims thus far seem reasonable compared to Pao’s lying ass.

  • SevTheBear

    These gender lawsuits is just so damn overblown by the media. Most of them most have the same intelligence level as Anita Sarkeesian’s brain dead fan base

  • Diet Pill

    ‘gender discrimination lawsuit’ is the new welfare

  • GrimFate

    Stuff like this always gets my curiosity because there is so much information that you, as an outsider, are lacking. Why were her claims of discrimination ignored? And is there evidence they were actually ignored (as opposed to simply not hearing back)? What were the subjective criteria that caused women to be given lower rankings? How did she gauge that the men promoted instead of her were less qualified? Did this only take rankings and/or raw skill into account?

    I only ask to help myself form a better opinion of the case, and not to question the validity of the case. Some of these cases will be completely on the ball, but it’s wise to question everything. I once heard of a business that got multiple discrimination suits because women were being paid less than men with the same title. The reason for this, though, was that pay was based on time at the company and the women were getting promoted faster than the men. Thus, these women were getting paid based on the same criteria, but I guess they didn’t realise WHAT the criteria was. So transparency and knowing all the relevant facts can help with calculating your opinion on these cases.

  • Audie Bakerson

    Someone ask her “How much do your male co-workers get paid?”.

  • SevTheBear

    Of course not. That would be logical

  • Jake Martinez

    What’s interesting to me is the idea that this is news at all. I can assume I suppose that this is the FIRST time an employee has filed a lawsuit like this against Microsoft? If that’s the case… then HOLY SHIT – how did they manage to go decades without someone doing something like this? It seems almost amazing if that’s the case. If not, then what makes THIS particular instance newsworthy as opposed to the other ones that we evidently didn’t hear about?

    I do think that this story is missing some vital information. A little bit of research on my own showed that Ms. Moussouris evidently received two promotions (or at least position upgrades) in less than 4 years. Certainly she must have filed some information about this with the courts, but almost none of the places reporting on this story seem to have any of it. It’s quite curious as I think it really is important to understand what her claim is exactly.

    Really, it kind of seems to me that the press is creating a tempest in a teacup here. I’m relatively certain that people sue Microsoft every day. I’d be willing to bet good money that they’ve been sued for discrimination before, I mean they ARE a huge company that’s been around for decades. It’s bound to have happened at least once before, right?

    I think that maybe the only reason why this is getting reported and with so little actual information is just because “Sexism in Tech” is topical, so news organizations are reaching to report on it. People should be aware of how this can potentially skew someones view of reality – like in this instance, making someones lawsuit seem much more important than it really is.

  • Oh FFS. Is there some reason MS needs to actually be in the USA? Just go somewhere with less deranged labour laws.

  • Flailing_Mage

    Wait… no salary negotiation? If I’m better at something than someone or if I have invested more time or if I’ve made myself indispensable to the company I work for why shouldn’t I be able to negotiate my wages? Why even bother with putting the extra effort in my work if I cannot make more than the person who does the same job half heartily?

    Wouldn’t that just encourage employees to put the minimum into their work? If two hours of effort made you the same amount of money as eight hours wouldn’t you only put in two? What is this? Communist Russia?

  • boag

    No one was stupid enough to file a flimsy case against them, but now that Inclusion Tolerance and Acceptance are the soup of the day, every moron is filled with confidence that they can get a big pay day out of these stupid lawsuits as long as they make enough of a wave in the media.

  • boag

    wasnt there a lawsuit epidemic during the 90s? how did that get handled?

  • HisShadowX

    The man problem why women get paid far left from their male counterparts is that women for some reason or another do not negotiate raises. Its very rare to walk into an interview and have a woman negotiate a raise, period but when this happens it typically goes very well.

    I think Microsoft’s new CEO comes from a culture where your boss tells you what to do and you do it and he tells you how much he will pay you no questions asked. Its like tipping, go overseas and try to tip and the owner will feel insulted and you might get kicked out as he feels he pays his employees fairly.

    With that being said if you run a major U.S Corp you should bend to the culture here. If you go to Japan and are put in charge of a major Japanese Corp don’t expect the Japanese Culture to bend to you.