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Microsoft Settles $14 Million California Leave Discrimination Case

TL;DR intro

  • Microsoft Settlement:Microsoft agrees to pay $14 million to settle claims of penalizing workers taking medical or family leave.
  • Retaliation Claims:The California Civil Rights Department accused Microsoft of retaliating against employees who took leave since 2017.
  • Policy Review:The settlement includes hiring an independent consultant to review company policies and provide training.

Microsoft Corp has agreed to a $14 million settlement with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD) over allegations that it unlawfully penalized employees who took medical or family-care leave. The CRD claimed in state court filings that since 2017, Microsoft retaliated against its California-based workers who used parental, disability, pregnancy, and family-care leave by denying them raises, promotions, and stock awards.

Impact on Affected Employees

The CRD's investigation found that these retaliatory actions disproportionately affected women and people with disabilities, resulting in lower performance review scores, suppressed pay, and hindered career advancement. The settlement, pending approval by a state judge, aims to resolve these issues.

Microsoft has denied any wrongdoing. A company spokesperson stated, “Microsoft is committed to an environment that empowers our employees to take leave when needed and provides the flexibility and support necessary for them to thrive professionally and personally.”

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Historical Context and Comparisons

This settlement follows a series of large settlements by the CRD in recent years, primarily involving sex-discrimination cases. Notable examples include a $100 million settlement with Riot Games in 2021, a $54 million settlement with Activision Blizzard last year, and a $15 million settlement with Snapchat parent Snap last month.

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Specific Allegations and Remedial Actions

The CRD accused Microsoft of sex and disability discrimination and interfering with employees' rights to take leave. The exact number of workers who will benefit from the settlement is unclear, but Microsoft has about 6,700 employees in California.

Kevin Kish, director of the Civil Rights Department, stated, “Microsoft failed to support workers when they needed time to care for themselves and their families. The settlement announced today will provide direct relief to impacted workers and safeguard against future discrimination at the company.”

As part of the settlement, Microsoft will not only pay $14 million but will also hire an independent consultant to review company policies for any discriminatory practices against employees who take leave. Additionally, Microsoft will ensure employees can raise complaints and will provide training for managers and human-resources personnel.

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