Microsoft To Pay $14.4M Regarding Allegations Of Retaliation For Leave


Microsoft is paying $14.4 million to settle a case in California over allegations the company retaliated against employees who had taken legally protected time off.

TakeAway Points:

  • Microsoft has agreed to pay $14.4 million to resolve allegations that it retaliated against workers who took protected leave between 2017 and the present.
  • The settlement resolves claims that bonuses and promotions were unfairly withheld from women and individuals with disabilities due to discriminatory practices.
  • To stop future retaliation, Microsoft will put compliance measures in place, such as management training and APTMetrics monitoring.

Settlement Over Retaliation Claims

Microsoft has agreed to pay $14.4 million to settle allegations of retaliating against employees who took legally protected time off. The California Civil Rights Department announced the proposed settlement on Wednesday, which is pending approval by a state judge. The settlement funds will be distributed to California workers who took parental leave, family care-taking leave, or disability leave from 2017 to the present and choose to participate in the settlement.

The complaint alleges that Microsoft’s policies and practices have a discriminatory adverse impact based on sex and disability. 

“Because Microsoft workers who use or will use protected leave are disproportionately women and people with disabilities, Microsoft’s challenged policies and practices also have a discriminatory adverse impact based on sex and disability that Microsoft cannot justify based on business necessity,” the agency stated. 

The complaint further claims that Microsoft does not adequately prevent managers from considering protected leave when assessing an employee’s “impact,” a factor influencing annual bonuses, promotions, stock awards, and merit increases.

Employment and Diverse Initiatives

Microsoft, headquartered in Redmond, Washington, employs approximately 6,700 people in California out of its total workforce of 221,000. Under CEO Satya Nadella, the company has made efforts to diversify its upper ranks and address issues related to harassment and discrimination. According to Microsoft’s latest diversity report, women represented 31.2% of the workforce in 2023, up from 27.6% in 2019. The percentage of women at the partner, executive, director, and manager levels has also increased over the years.

In 2022, following a shareholder vote, Microsoft committed to revising its sexual harassment and gender discrimination rules. This decision came after an external report highlighted issues in the company’s handling of complaints. Despite these efforts, employees have reported concerns about retaliation after requesting protected leave, as noted in the California complaint.

“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. While we believe the agency’s allegations are inaccurate, we will continue to listen, learn, and support our employees,” a company spokesperson wrote in an email.

Measures of Compliance and Training

As part of the settlement, Microsoft will implement several measures to ensure compliance and prevent future retaliation. The company will provide training to direct and second-level managers of staff members in California, as well as to human-resources employees involved in determining bonuses and merit increases. Managers will be instructed not to consider time off for protected leave when making “impact” decisions. A consultant, APTMetrics, will be responsible for monitoring compliance with these new policies.

The proposed settlement indicates that Microsoft disputes the agency’s claims. However, the company has not yet provided an official comment on the matter.











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