Dozens of female Microsoft employees claim they deal with shocking behaviour at work: requests to sit on a coworker's lap, being called a 'b*tch'

Stephen Brashear / Stringer
  • Dozens of women inside Microsoft complained on a long email string of their treatment at the company, according to media reports.
  • The string included some pretty shocking accusations of things women experienced such as being called names and having complaints be shrugged off by male managers and HR.
  • Microsoft’s top HR exec reportedly commented on the email thread, saying senior leadership was “appalled” by the stories.
  • All if this comes against the backdrop of a lawsuit Microsoft is successfully fighting that alleges rampant sexual harassment and discrimination at the company
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Even as Microsoft is successfully fighting against an attempted class action lawsuit alleging rampant sexual discrimination at the company, some women inside the company have begun to loudly complain about their treatment.

In an email chain spanning more than 90 pages, women inside the company are sharing stories, some of them shocking, reports Quartz’s Dave Gershgorn.

The email string began on March 20 when a female employee asked another for advice about advancement after spending six years in the same position with no promotion in sight. As the email was shared, dozens of women chimed in, expressing their own frustrating about advancement and sharing stories of other things they experienced at work, Quartz reports.


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For instance, one woman claims that she was told to sit on a coworker’s lap in front of a human resources leader during a work trip.

Another said that she has been called a “b*tch” multiple times in the Xbox, Windows & Azure organisations, and alleged that during “roundtable” meetings other women reported the same experience.

One alleged that when she reported a terrifying incident by a Microsoft partner (not an employee) who threatened her, her male manager dismissed the threats as “just flirting” and told her to “get over it” and HR shrugged it off since the man was a partner, not an employee.

Microsoft did not immediately return Business Insider’s request for comment.

The article details more such stories from women, ranging from how they were belittled through work assignments to sexist comments during work trips.

The string was eventually sent to Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s head of human resources who replied saying she discussed it with senior leadership and was “appalled.” She promised that anyone could come to her directly to report such instances and that she would personally look into them with her team.

But Microsoft’s investigations of sexual harassment or gender discrimination claims have been criticised in the past.

The company is successfully fighting a lawsuit right now brought by three women who claim that Microsoft didn’t fully investigate 238 internal complaints of sexual harassment and discrimination. The plaintiffs also claim women are systematically underpaid at Microsoft. Microsoft has consistently denied there are merits to the case and says it is committed to equal treatment of women.

In January, a judge ruled in favour of Microsoft and denied class-action status to the case. That means that other women can’t join the case. They would have to sue Microsoft on their own, the lawyers for the case say.

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