A whistleblower lawsuit was filed recently against Microsoft by a former employee of the company. According to the claim, the employee was terminated in retaliation of reporting discriminatory behavior within the company.
The lawsuit, filed by Christilda Dawson, claims that she observed numerous incidents of discrimination. She filed the lawsuit in February 2019 in King County Superior Court.
According to court documents, Dawson worked at Microsoft beginning in February 2014 until her termination in October 2018. She worked in multiple divisions as a marketing manager and program manager.
Officially, Microsoft claims Dawson was let go as part of layoffs that eliminated the positions of most members of her team. Dawson claims her firing was in retaliation for having reported discrimination. According to Dawson, she was not let go as part of a round of lay-offs and that her position was later filled by another person.
Microsoft Accused of Not Hiring Latino Applicant
Dawson’s claims include descriptions of incidents of discrimination based on race and ethnicity. One account describes how she saw a Microsoft employee in a senior management role instructing a hiring manager to not hire an applicant because “…she is Latino…” and “…cannot speak English properly…” Dawson then reports that the hiring manager was told to “…. Come up with another reason to say no to her.”
According to Dawson, she brought up the incident with management and filed a written complaint about what she had seen in the spring of 2017. The claim gives no details as to how the company handled an investigation into the complaint.
Dawson was later terminated, which she claims is directly in retaliation for reporting the discriminatory behavior. She claims to have earned several performance awards and received “stellar” reviews while working at the company.
Initially, Dawson was forced from her position on the US Small Medium Business Team and had her bonuses eliminated. She also says she was not permitted to participate in company travel and was isolated from senior management. Eventually, the company dismissed her entirely.
Microsoft Claims It Takes Discrimination Seriously
Microsoft did not respond to the claims of discriminatory practices in its hiring process, but did say that Dawson’s termination was based on “legitimate, non-discriminatory, and reasonable business reasons.” They stated that her being let go had nothing to do with her complains and that the decision was not related to her sex, age, color, or race.
Additionally, Microsoft issued a public statement to GeekWire, stating the company takes discrimination concerns seriously and conducts investigations into any issues that arise. The company also states it does not retaliate against whistleblowers. They claim to have investigated Dawson’s report and found that her allegations were “unfounded.”
Dawson’s lawsuit is not the only problem Microsoft is facing concerning its alleged discriminatory practices in the workplace.
The company is currently investigating dozens of complaints of discrimination and harassment against female employees that were revealed following an email chain leaked to an online news site.
According to reports, a female employee at the company sent an email asking other female colleagues for career advice and sharing how she felt there was no opportunity for advancement within the company even though she’d worked there for half a dozen year. Dozens of female co-workers replied to the email sharing their sentiments and describing discrimination and harassment they’d experienced while on the job. They also stated they’d shared their complaints with Microsoft’s human resources department but were ignored.
Women included in the email described everything from being asked to sit on a co-worker’s lap during a meeting to being passed over for promotions. By the time the HR department responded to the email, there were 90 pages worth of complaints included in the document.