Microsoft Says It Fired About 20 People Last Year For Sexual Harassment

By Rachel Lerman
The Seattle Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Newly unsealed information in the Microsoft lawsuit alleges that female engineering employees had filed 238 complaints of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual assault with the company’s internal investigations unit during a seven-year period.

SEATTLE

Microsoft defended its handling of gender-discrimination complaints Thursday, and said it fired about 20 people last year after sexual-harassment investigations.

In an email to all employees late Thursday about its internal inquiry process for bias complaints, it addressed issues raised earlier this week in a gender-discrimination lawsuit against Microsoft.

The email, sent by Microsoft’s chief of people Kathleen Hogan, sought to reassure employees that their voices would be heard when they filed a complaint.

“We strive to create an environment where everyone is respected, safe and able to do their best work,” the email read.

The company also called “misleading” data disclosed earlier this week in a lawsuit, asserting in its email that “reports that we rarely reach a conclusion in favor of the complainant are based on a faulty reading of a partial data set.”

Microsoft’s internal investigation of complaints was thrust into the public spotlight earlier this week when some information in the lawsuit was unsealed, showing, according to the plaintiffs, that less than 1 percent of gender-discrimination complaints filed by U.S. technical women between 2010 and 2016 were found to violate company policy, according to court documents.

The case also addresses some instances of sexual harassment. In response, Hogan wrote Thursday that U.S. Microsoft employees filed 83 complaints about sexual harassment last fiscal year.

Nearly half were found to be “supported in part or in full.” In more than half of the cases found to be supported, the offender was fired, the company said.

The newly unsealed information in the lawsuit alleges that female engineering employees had filed 238 complaints of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and sexual assault with the company’s internal investigations unit during a seven-year period.

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