Ex-Microsoft employee sues company for gender discrimination

Former technician files suit claiming she was passed over for jobs by less-qualified men during her seven years at Microsoft.

Terry Collins
Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
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A former Microsoft employee has sued the tech giant claiming it has a longstanding practice of discriminating against women who work in technical roles.

The proposed class action lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court in Seattle by Katherine Moussouris alleges Microsoft of paying and promoting female workers in technical positions less than their male counterparts. The suit also says women workers at Microsoft were also ranked less than men. Moussouris worked at the software maker from 2007 to 2014.

The documents say the Seattle-based software maker's policies and practices "systematically violate female technical employees' rights and result in unchecked gender bias that pervades its corporate culture." The suit also alleges that Microsoft retaliates against women who complain about being discriminated against.

A former Microsoft employee has filed a class action lawsuit against the tech giant for gender discrimination

Microsoft said in an emailed statement Wednesday it will review the allegations. "We're committed to a diverse workforce, and to a workplace where all employees have the chance to succeed," a spokesperson said.

Microsoft joins other tech heavyweights including Twitter and Facebook in grappling with gender discrimination suits. It also comes nearly a year after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was widely panned after saying that ""="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="3c4b693d-32a8-45e4-888d-e1604a3085b2" slug="microsoft-ceo-says-he-was-inarticulate-on-pay-for-women-in-tech" link-text="women should rely on " section="news" title="Microsoft CEO says he was 'inarticulate' on pay for women in tech" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":"3c4b693d-32a8-45e4-888d-e1604a3085b2","slug":"microsoft-ceo-says-he-was-inarticulate-on-pay-for-women-in-tech","contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{"slug":"tech-industry"},"metaData":{"typeTitle":null,"hubTopicPathString":"Tech Industry","reviewType":null},"section":"news"}"> instead of asking for raises and promoting themselves.

Gender discrimination lawsuits against tech giants have gained more public attention since Ellen Pao filed her high-profile gender discrimination suit against renown Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Tina Huang, an ex-Twitter software engineer, filed suit in March accusing the social network of using a "subjective, secretive promotion process" that favors men. That same month, ex-Facebook staffer Chia Hong filed a lawsuit against her former employer, saying Facebook fired her after she complained about being discriminated against and harassed because of her gender and Taiwanese descent.

Since Nadella made his controversial comments at a women in tech conference in October, he has apologized and instituted training programs at Microsoft to help raise awareness about the unconscious bias that can hinder women's careers.

Moussouris, who worked at Microsoft as a security program manager in the company's Trustworthy Computing group, alleges she was routinely received lower performance ratings than male co-workers despite performing better than them.

She also accuses a male director of giving her a low bonus in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment in her department. Microsoft concluded that the director sexually harassed female employees and he was reassigned, according to the suit. He was later promoted to senior director, according to the lawsuit.