Microsoft Agrees to Pay $14 Million to Settle Parental and Disability Leave Discrimination Claims

Once a court approves the consent decree, the California Civil Rights Department will drop its long-running case against Microsoft.
Microsoft Agrees to Pay $14 Million to Settle Parental and Disability Leave Discrimination Claims
Microsoft Corporation headquarters at Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris, France, on April 18, 2016. (Charles Platiau /Reuters)
Tom Ozimek

Microsoft has agreed to pay $14.4 million to resolve allegations of retaliation and discrimination against workers who took protected leave, including due to pregnancy and disability, according to a California civil rights agency.

The California Civil Rights Department (CRD) announced on July 3 that it had entered into a binding settlement with Microsoft on terms laid out in a proposed consent decree that resolves allegations that Microsoft retaliated and discriminated against workers based on their use of protected leave.

Once a court approves the consent decree, the California agency will drop its long-running case against Microsoft, resolving a multi-year investigation into claims of the tech giant’s alleged retaliation and discrimination against staff who used protected leave, including parental, disability, pregnancy, and family care-taking leave.

The agency alleged that Microsoft employees who took certain types of protected leave received lower bonuses or unfavorable performance reviews that impaired their eligibility for promotions and merit-based pay raises.

“Whether it’s to look after a newborn child or take care of your own health, workers generally have the right to take time off without worrying about consequences at work,” CRD Director Kevin Kish said in a statement. “By allegedly penalizing employees for taking protected forms of leave, Microsoft failed to support workers when they needed to care for themselves or their families.”

A spokesperson for the software company said Microsoft denies any wrongdoing.

“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,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Microsoft for additional comment.

The claims of discrimination that the settlement resolves relate to the use of protected leave under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, the California Family Rights Act, California’s Pregnancy Disability Leave law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Settlement Details

The monetary relief applies to employees who used protected leave at the company in California between 2017 and 2024. Specifically, individuals who worked at Microsoft in California between May 2017 and the date of the court’s entry of the settlement agreement may be eligible for monetary compensation, for which $14.2 million have been earmarked, with the remainder covering CRD’s enforcement efforts.

As part of the monetary settlement, each eligible employee will receive a base payment of $1,500 plus an additional amount based on factors like length of employment and salary.

Besides agreeing to pay the $14.4 million, Microsoft has also committed to a range of non-monetary terms. These include hiring an independent consultant to ensure managers don’t consider protected leave when deciding annual rewards and promotions. The consultant will also assist staff with reporting discrimination or retaliation complaints and will prepare an annual compliance report. Also, all Microsoft managers and HR personnel will undergo training on prohibitions against such discrimination.

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

The California agency said that individuals covered by the proposed agreement don’t need to take any action at this time. Once the proposed agreement is approved by a court, covered workers will receive information from a settlement administrator as to what steps they need to take to collect their money.

Reuters contributed to this report.
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
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