The suit, which is seeking class-action status, contends that Microsoft’s personnel practices discriminate against females in technical and engineering roles.
A former employee has sued Microsoft over her claims that the software maker’s performance evaluation, pay and promotion practices discriminate against females in technical and engineering roles.
The complaint filed Wednesday in Seattle federal court follows similar suits this year in California against Twitter and Facebook.
Kirkland resident Katie Moussouris, a “white hat” cybersleuth and veteran of Symantec, worked at Microsoft for seven years before becoming chief policy officer at HackerOne. She seeks class-action status for her case.
Moussouris contends Microsoft’s evaluation process, called stack ranking, “undervalued female technical employees compared to similarly situated male employees” and resulted in women being paid less and promoted less frequently “regardless of their actual contributions.”
Moussouris’ complaint alleges she was passed over for promotions “in favor of less qualified and less experienced men” during 2010 through 2014. One of these instances, the court filing says, occurred while Moussouris was on maternity leave.
She was told some managers did not like her “manner or style.” Moussouris resigned in May 2014.
Microsoft responded in a statement that it was “committed to a diverse workforce, and to a workplace where all employees have the chance to succeed.” The company said it had previously reviewed Moussouris’ allegations about her experiences “and did not find anything to substantiate those claims, and we will carefully review this new complaint.”
While at the company, Moussouris instituted its security bounty programs, which gave prize money to researchers for finding security flaws, and oversaw public outreach on vulnerabilities, according to her LinkedIn page. Those activities, as well as numerous speeches at security conferences, have made her a well-known figure in the computer-security field.
Only about 13 percent of Microsoft’s 144 senior officials and managers are women, according to its 2014 Employment Information Report. About 20 percent of its midlevel managers and 22 percent of its professionals are female.
The case is seeking back pay for Moussouris and other members of the class, as well as a court order that Microsoft create policies and programs “that provide equal employment opportunities for all employees regardless of gender…”
The two law firms that filed the case, San Francisco-based Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein and New York-based Outten & Golden, are also the lead counsel in a gender-discrimination case against Goldman Sachs Group.
The case is Moussouris v. Microsoft.