Lieff Cabraser Civil Justice Blog
Microsoft Acknowledges Gender Imbalance in Tech Industry Even as it Fights Discrimination Claims

Microsoft Acknowledges Gender Imbalance in Tech Industry Even as it Fights Discrimination Claims

In the midst of squaring off against more than 8,600 former and current female employees in a class action lawsuit based on claims of systemic and pervasive discrimination, Microsoft Corp. admits in its filed response to the lawsuit that the company is “keenly aware of gender imbalance in the tech industry.” However, the company goes on to argue that a lawsuit – where the company could face a verdict assigning it significant liability for its actions – is not the right arena in which to address the problem.

The Washington-based tech giant is charged with providing unequal pay and advancement opportunities for women in engineering and other technical roles. The complaint in the class action also alleges that Microsoft is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Washington state laws against discrimination via actions leading to lesser pay and fewer promotions for female employees than their male counterparts.

According to The Recorder, “Microsoft’s opposition to class certification, filed Friday in federal court, reveals the tension the company faces as it fights the class claims while acknowledging internal and broader efforts to improve gender equality and diversity in the industry.”

Nor is Microsoft the only major tech company “under the microscope for gender inequity.” Google Inc., Uber Technologies, and Oracle America Inc. are also facing ongoing lawsuits based on claims of workplace gender bias.

Background on the Microsoft Gender Lawsuit

On September 16, 2015, a gender discrimination class action lawsuit was filed against Microsoft Corporation. The class action, Moussouris v. Microsoft Corporation, Case No. 15-cv-01483, was brought by Katie Moussouris, a former female Microsoft technical professional on behalf of herself and all current and former female technical professionals employed by Microsoft in the U.S. since July 18, 2010. On October 27, 2015, an amended complaint was filed, adding current Microsoft employees Holly Muenchow and Dana Piermarini as named plaintiffs, in addition to Ms. Moussouris.

Plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification on October 27, 2017. The motion seeks certification of a class of female employees who worked in the Engineering or I/T Operations Professions and in stock levels 59-67 from September 16, 2012 to the present.

Allegations of Sex Discrimination in the Workplace by Microsoft

The class action complaint alleges that Microsoft has engaged in systemic and pervasive discrimination against female employees in technical and engineering roles (“female technical employees”) with respect to performance evaluations, pay, promotions, and other terms and conditions of employment. The unchecked gender bias that pervades Microsoft’s corporate culture has resulted in female technical professionals receiving less compensation than similar men, the promotion of men over equally or more qualified women, and less favorable performance evaluation of female technical professionals compared to male peers.

Detailed information on the case is available at