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US Federal Judge blew off flames of Women-backed class-action lawsuit against Microsoft citing gender-discrimination

by Milicent Atieno
Dana Piermarini, Holly Muenchow, and Katherine Moussouris microsoft gender discrimination lawsuit Federal Judge James Robart

A United State Federal Judge has dismissed a class-action lawsuit against Microsoft backed by three employees of the company. The three women accuse Microsoft of systematically discriminating against its female employees.

The three women – Dana Piermarini, Holly Muenchow, and Katherine Moussouris – will however still be able to continue with the lawsuit, but not as representatives of the broader women group who have allegedly been discriminated by Microsoft regarding equal pay and respectful treatment at the workplace.

In their class certification motion, which was unsealed in March, the three women had apparently brought out evidence show how the corporate culture at Microsoft was systematically hostile to the female employees. The class-action lawsuit was supported by declarations from a number of other women who still work at Microsoft.

According to the evidence laid out, women were less paid compared to their male counterparts by a statistically significant margin. Their evidence gave out a controlled data on employees’ age, tenure with Microsoft, and scores on their performance appraisal among other considerations. In a nutshell, the plaintiffs accused Microsoft of underpaying its female staff by between $100 million and $238 million.

Though Microsoft in an email to a section of the media came out to say it “strongly disputes the study’s conclusion, and our own experts and studies found men and women earned equal pay for equal work.”

The plaintiffs also claimed Microsoft had turned a blind eye to the systematic sexual harassment within the organization. The plaintiff alleged that between 2010 and 2016 technical women at Microsoft had lodged either 118 or 119 sexual harassment complaints against the company. The team tasked by Microsoft to look into these complaints found just only one case was justified. For that reason, the plaintiffs accuse Microsoft of not taking sexual harassment within its own staff seriously.

The flagrant and repeated incidents of sexual misconduct toward women at Microsoft reflects the corporate culture in which women are undervalued and underpaid,” argued the plaintiffs.

On Monday, Federal Judge James Robart announced he denied the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. However, he explained his reasons were temporarily sealed to gives the parties time to deliberate on whether or not they need parts of the order redacted.

If the judge had certified the class-action suit, it would have strengthened the three women’s case, and Microsoft could have potentially lost hundreds of millions in compensations. In other words, Microsoft would have been seriously compelled to review its gender equality and sexual discrimination policy in its employment and workplace setup.

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