Microsoft to pay $14 million amid allegations of retaliation, discrimination against workers

Company settles after being accused of penalising employees for taking protected forms of leave

Microsoft to pay $14 million amid allegations of retaliation, discrimination against workers

Microsoft has agreed to pay $14.4 million as settlement to resolve allegations of retaliation and discrimination against workers who used their protected time off.

The tech giant has been accused by the Civil Rights Department (CRD) of penalising employees for taking protected forms of leave, including parental, disability, pregnancy, and family care taking leave.

If approved by the court, Microsoft's proposed settlement includes $14.2 million to cover direct relief for workers and $225,000 in costs associated the CRD's enforcement efforts.

Those who are eligible to receive compensation include employees who took protected leave and worked at Microsoft in California between May 2017 and the date of the court's entry of the settlement agreement. 

"The settlement announced today will provide direct relief to impacted workers and safeguard against future discrimination at the company," said CRD director Kevin Kish in a statement. "We applaud Microsoft for coming to the table and agreeing to make the changes necessary to protect workers in California."

Allegations against Microsoft

The CRD, which filed the complaint, said that women and people with disabilities are most likely to use these protected forms of leave.

These employees are also more likely to face unlawful retaliation and discrimination in terms of compensation and promotion opportunities for using the protected leave.

"Whether it's to look after a newborn child or take care of your own health, workers generally have the right to take time off without worrying about consequences at work," Kish said.

"By allegedly penalising employees for taking protected forms of leave, Microsoft failed to support workers when they needed to care for themselves or their families."

Microsoft's proposed settlement also mandates it to retain an independent consultant who will:

  • Make recommendations on Microsoft's personnel policies and practices to ensure managers do not consider time on protected leave in determining annual rewards and promotions
  • Work with Microsoft to ensure workers know how to raise complaints in instances where they believe that annual rewards and promotion decisions reflect discrimination or retaliation for the use of protected leave

The tech giant is also mandated to report its compliance with the settlement annually and ensure managers and HR personnel are trained over prohibitions on discrimination based on the use of protected leave.

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