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Microsoft Agrees to $14 Million Settlement Over Pay Discrimination in California

Microsoft has agreed to pay $14.4 million to resolve a case alleging retaliatory and discriminatory practices against California workers who took protected leave, such as family care, parental, disability and pregnancy leave. The settlement was reached with the California Civil Rights Department (CRD), which launched an investigation into Microsoft in 2020.

According to the CRD, workers who took protected leave “received lower bonuses and unfavorable performance reviews that, in turn, harmed their eligibility for merit increases, stock awards, and promotions.” The department also alleged that Microsoft “failed to take sufficient action to prevent discrimination from occurring, altering the career trajectory of women, people with disabilities, and other employees who worked at the company, ultimately leaving them behind.”

Under the proposed agreement, which is subject to court approval, Microsoft’s payment will go toward compensating impacted workers from May 2017 until the date of the court’s approval. The company must also retain an independent consultant to provide policy and practice recommendations, ensure that managers do not use protected leave as a factor in rewards and promotions, and provide discrimination training for managers and HR. The consultant will also work with Microsoft to establish a straightforward method for employees to raise complaints if they feel their protected leave has influenced their standing in the company.

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

The case highlights the importance of upholding laws that protect workers’ rights, particularly when it comes to taking leave for family, medical, or other personal reasons. The settlement represents a significant step in addressing discrimination and ensuring a fair and equitable workplace for all employees.

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