A former Microsoft employee has filed a lawsuit against the tech giant, alleging that she was wrongfully terminated for refusing to relocate to the company's headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
The unnamed black female plaintiff worked as a senior program manager for Microsoft's cloud computing division, Azure, since 2018. She was hired as a remote employee and was based in San Francisco, California.
According to the complaint (via Law), filed on June 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, she received positive performance reviews and feedback from her managers and colleagues throughout her employment. She also received several awards and recognition for her work, including being named as one of the top 10% performers in her group in 2020.
However, in March 2021, the plaintiff claims that she was informed by her new manager that she had to relocate to Redmond by June 30, 2021, or face termination. She says that she was not given any valid reason for this sudden change in policy, and that she was not offered any relocation assistance or compensation.
Furthermore, she alleges that she tried to negotiate with her manager and other Microsoft executives, but they refused to accommodate her request to continue working remotely. She also claims that she was subjected to harassment and retaliation by her manager and his subordinates, who excluded her from meetings, projects and communications, and gave her negative feedback and ratings.
Complaint and Accusations of Discrimination
The plaintiff says that she suffered emotional distress, anxiety and depression as a result of the hostile work environment. She also says that she was unable to find another suitable job in the Bay Area due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the competitive tech market.
On June 25, 2021, she received a termination letter from Microsoft, stating that she was being fired for failing to relocate to Redmond by the deadline. In the filing, the plaintiff contends that this was a pretext for discrimination and retaliation based on her sex, age and disability.
She is seeking damages for lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney fees. She is also seeking injunctive relief to prevent Microsoft from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
The plaintiff is represented by Jennifer Spencer of Spencer Scott PLLC, a law firm that specializes in employment litigation. Microsoft has not yet responded to the lawsuit or issued any public statement on the matter.
Microsoft Has Updated its Policies
Following an investigation by law firm ArentFox Schiff, Microsoft last year said it is updating its sexual harassment policies. The investigation was prompted by complaints of sexual misconduct and discrimination at the company. Microsoft says it will adopt the recommendations from the report by June 30, 2023, the end of its fiscal year.
The report, which is 50 pages long, suggests ways for Microsoft to improve its gender discrimination and sexual harassment policies. Microsoft will publish an annual report to track its progress on these issues, according to a blog post by the company.