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Microsoft defends the treatment of sexual harassment complaints, quotes about 20 times in 2017

Microsoft said it dismissed about 20 employees last year for sexual harassment amid criticism of the treatment of complaints from employees.

(Reuters)

Microsoft responded to the treatment of sexual harassment and gender discrimination complaints Thursday, saying that it dismissed about 20 employees last year after research has shown unacceptable behavior in the workplace.

Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s Chief People Officer, wrote in an e-mail to employees that the company takes employees’ concerns seriously and investigates them thoroughly.

“We strive to ensure that all voices are heard,” the email read. “We strive to create an environment in which everyone feels respected, safe and able to do their best work.”

Hogan wrote that the companies have more than 65,000 employees, 83 sexual harassment complaints in the previous year. Almost half of the complaints were found “to be supported in part or in whole” after investigation. The offending employee was dismissed in more than half of the supported complaints.

Microsoft also had 84 complaints of discrimination on the grounds of sex, in the same year. It turned out 10 percent to be supported in part or in whole, and took “appropriate action.”

The tech company has dealt with pending litigation since 2015, in which the three current and former female employees alleging discrimination on the basis of gender.

“We strive to create an environment in which everyone feels respected, safe and able to do their best work.”

– Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s Chief People Officer

The Seattle Times quoted court records made public Monday that alleged female engineering staff had submitted 238 complaints of discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual harassment and sexual abuse between 2010 and 2016. The information has also been shown that only one of the 118 sex discrimination complaints made by women in the Microsoft during the same period was found to have merit.

The company called the reported data “are incorrect and misleading.”

The lawsuit against Microsoft claimed more than 8,600 women collectively lost out on $238 million of pay and 500 promotions because of discrimination in the company’s performance review process. A request for class-action status will be determined by the U. S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle in the coming months.

Microsoft’s case was one of several against large companies in the technology industry, with Google being sued by women who claim that they are underpaid in comparison with men in the company.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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