Microsoft employees have failed in their bid to open a class-action gender discrimination lawsuit. The loss follows a lawsuit filed by three women in 2015, which was eventually ruled in the tech company's favor.
The appeal for a class-action lawsuit reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit who upheld a previous denial by the District Court of Washington in 2018. The sheer number of employees, in this case, seems to have worked against the accusers, who say Microsoft systematically discriminated against women in pay and promotions.
“The allegedly discriminatory pay and promotion decisions in the instant case do not present common questions because the proposed class consists of more than 8,600 women, who held more than 8,000 different positions in facilities throughout the United States,” the panel wrote in an unpublished ruling. “Further, appellants failed to identify a common mode of discretion throughout Microsoft because the individual managers had broad discretion over how to conduct the Calibration Meetings/People Discussions, as well as over the decisions that they made at those meetings.”
Essentially, the court did not find a broad conspiracy by Microsoft to deny promotions and pay. Instead, it suggests the onus is on the individual managers, who may have been given too much discretion in deciding employees' promotions and pay.
Still, many of the employees' misgivings were with how Microsoft handled its investigations. According to Wired, 118 women filed gender discrimination complains between 2010 and 2016, and the company only found one to be founded.
Microsoft has previously promised less secrecy surrounding its sexual harassment process, but employees told Wired in April that they still don't have access to vital salary and promotion data that would help determine wage discrimination.
For its part, the company denies that widespread discrimination against female employees exists. However, a judge previously criticized the company's lawyers for trying to find loopholes in the original discrimination suit. The aggression and shady tactics indicate this was a concern for Microsoft, so no doubt it'll be glad to hear the class action has been denied.