Issue/Allegation: Gender discrimination
On December 24, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s June 25, 2018 denial of Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. This means the case cannot proceed as a class to trial. However, neither court has ruled in favor of Microsoft on the merits of the case and the district court concluded that there was enough evidence of gender discrimination for plaintiffs’ individual claims to proceed to trial. Plaintiffs’ expert, Dr. Henry S. Farber, Ph.D., found that women in Engineering and I/T Operations Professions at Microsoft are paid less than otherwise similar men and lag behind men in their rate of advancement at Microsoft. Public versions of Dr. Farber’s expert reports are available here and here.
The court’s denial of class certification means that it is possible that any individual claims you may have against Microsoft may no longer be protected by the lawsuit and statutes of limitations periods for filing claims may be running.
Previous Updates on the Case
On January 30, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their opening brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to appeal the district court’s June 25, 2018 denial of Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. Plaintiffs expect briefing to be completed in spring 2019 and, based on the timing of other recent Ninth Circuit civil appeals, anticipate that the Ninth Circuit will hold oral argument in late 2019 or early 2020.
Unfortunately, the court’s denial of class certification means that it is possible that any individual claims you may have against Microsoft may no longer be protected by the lawsuit at this time.
If you wish to pursue your own federal claims against Microsoft, you may need to file your own charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is possible that your deadline to do so may run from June 25, 2018, the date that the district court denied Plaintiffs’ class certification motion. Generally, the time to file an EEOC charge is either 180 or 300 days from the last act of discrimination, depending on the state in which you worked. In Washington state, the deadline is 300 days for such federal claims. If you wish to discuss the timing and filing of the charge of discrimination to fully protect your potential legal claims, you may contact us at (212) 245-1000 or (415) 956-1000.
The Court has unsealed portions of Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, expert reports, and other supporting documents. The brief and expert reports can be downloaded here. Among the documents the Court unsealed, is a set of logs of internal gender complaints from 2010 to 2016 escalated to Microsoft’s Employee Relations Investigation Team. The logs document the type of gender complaint and its resolution.
Plaintiffs filed a reply brief in support of their motion for class certification on February 9, 2018. A public version of the motion is available here. Plaintiffs filed three expert reports in support of their reply brief. Public versions of these expert reports are available here, here, and here.
Plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification on October 27, 2017. A public version of the motion is available here. Public versions of Plaintiffs’ expert reports are available here and here. Microsoft’s opposition to the motion for class certification is due on January 5, 2018, and Plaintiffs’ reply is due on February 9, 2018. After that, the Court will issue an order, which typically takes from one to five months. Plaintiffs’ 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.
On October 14, 2016, the district court denied Microsoft’s second motion to dismiss the disparate impact claims in the case. The court also ruled that the statute of limitations for the Washington state law claim extends back to September 16, 2012. Read a copy of the court’s order here.
On March 8, 2016, the district court denied Microsoft’s first motion to dismiss the case. The court ruled that discovery shall proceed based on Plaintiffs’ current class definition, which includes all current and former female technical professionals employed by Microsoft in the U.S. The court gave Plaintiffs thirty days to file an amended complaint pleading their disparate impact claim in more detail. The amended complaint was filed on April 7, 2016. Read a copy of the court’s order here. Read a copy of the amended complaint here.
On September 16, 2015, a gender discrimination class action lawsuit was filed against Microsoft Corporation. The class action, Moussouris v. Microsoft Corporation, was brought by 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. 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.
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.
The complaint alleges that the disadvantage to female technical employees in pay and promotion is not isolated or exceptional, but rather the predictable result of Microsoft’s policies and practices and lack of proper accountability measures to ensure fairness, and that Microsoft has implemented these policies and practices despite knowing that they have a long-standing disparate impact on female technical employees.
The complaint further alleges that Microsoft’s continuing policy, pattern, and practice of sex discrimination against female technical employees violates federal and state laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.
The proposed class includes women who worked at Microsoft from September 16, 2012 to the present.
Relief Sought in Microsoft Gender Discrimination Lawsuit
The lawsuit seeks back pay as well as monetary damages, including punitive damages, sustained as a result of Microsoft’s unlawful discrimination.
The lawsuit also seeks several orders, including:
- An injunction against Microsoft to keep it from engaging in policies, patterns, and/or practices that discriminate against its female technical employees because of their gender or participation in this lawsuit;
- An order requiring that Microsoft institute and carry out policies, practices, and programs that provide equal employment opportunities for all employees, regardless of gender, and that it eradicate the effects of its past and present unlawful employment practices;
- An order requiring Microsoft to develop and institute accurate and validated standards for evaluating performance, determining pay, and making promotion decisions;
- An order appointing a monitor to ensure that Microsoft complies with the injunction provisions of any decree that the Court orders; and
- An order restoring the plaintiff and class members to their rightful positions at Microsoft (i.e., reinstatement), or in lieu of reinstatement, an order for front pay benefits.