Microsoft settles lawsuit claiming it punished employees for taking protected time off

Judge sitting behind laptop in office
(Image credit: Pexels / Sora Shimazaki)

Microsoft has agreed to a $14.2 million settlement to resolve allegations of discriminatory practices against some employees who took protected leave, but were reportedly punished for doing so.

The Civil Rights Department (CRD) of California has been investigating whether Microsoft had violated the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act since 2020.

Ultimately, it found Microsoft employees who took protected leave, such as family care, disability, and pregnancy leave, received lower bonuses and unfavorable performance reviews.

Microsoft guilty of discriminatory practices

Moreover, the investigation found Microsoft’s negative staff evaluations affected workers’ eligibility for merit increases, stock awards and promotions.

According to the Civil Rights Department, Redmond had also failed to prevent discrimination, impacting the career progression of women, people with disabilities and other employees.

Around 6,700 of the company’s 221,000 workers, or 3% of Microsoft’s headcount, are located in California.

CRD Director Kevin Kish commented: “The settlement announced today will provide direct relief to impacted workers and safeguard against future discrimination at the company. We applaud Microsoft for coming to the table and agreeing to make the changes necessary to protect workers in California.”

If approved by the court, Microsoft is set to pay a settlement of $14.2 million to cover direct relief for workers and a further $225,000 in costs associated with the CRD’s enforcement efforts.

In a statement, the CRD noted: “Individuals 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 may be eligible to receive compensation.”

In an email to TechRadar Pro, a Microsoft spokesperson added: "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."

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Craig Hale

With several years’ experience freelancing in tech and automotive circles, Craig’s specific interests lie in technology that is designed to better our lives, including AI and ML, productivity aids, and smart fitness. He is also passionate about cars and the decarbonisation of personal transportation. As an avid bargain-hunter, you can be sure that any deal Craig finds is top value!