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Microsoft to pay millions in settlement over California worker discrimination allegations

A sign for Microsoft offices is seen, May 6, 2021, in New York
A sign for Microsoft offices is seen, May 6, 2021, in New York Copyright Mark Lennihan/AP Photo
Copyright Mark Lennihan/AP Photo
By Euronews with AP
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The global software giant will pay millions to settle allegations it discriminated against employees who took leave.


Microsoft has reached a $14.4 million (€13.35 million) settlement to resolve allegations that the software company discriminated against employees based on their leave.

If approved by a court, the settlement would resolve a multi-year investigation by the US state of California's Civil Rights Department.

The California department alleged that workers who used protected leave faced retaliation such as lower bonuses and unfavourable performance reviews.

They also alleged that Microsoft did not take "sufficient action" to prevent this discrimination.

Employers are not allowed to interfere with protected leave which includes "parental, disability, pregnancy, and family care taking leave," the California agency said.

“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,” said California Civil Rights Department director Kevin Kish.

“By allegedly penalising employees for taking protected forms of leave, Microsoft failed to support workers when they needed to care for themselves or their families," he said.

Most of the settlement money would go directly to workers.

Microsoft responded in a statement that the agency's allegations are inaccurate, but it "will continue to listen, learn, and support our employees".

As part of the proposed settlement, Microsoft will take steps to prevent future discrimination, including updated manager training. An outside consultant will monitor and report on the company's compliance.

Each eligible employee will receive a base payment of $1,500 (€1,388) with more available based on factors such as salary and length of employment.

Microsoft has about 221,000 employees worldwide, including nearly 7,000 in California, according to the state civil rights agency.

The agency did not have an estimate for how many workers could receive payment.

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