Microsoft Gender Discrimination and Unequal Pay Lawsuit Investigation

Dozens of female technical employees at Microsoft are sharing gendered pay disparities and discrimination in an internal email chain that was started in May 2021A similar chain describing gender-based microaggressions, lack of upward mobility, and pay inequity also surfaced in 2019, suggesting an ongoing toxic culture of gender-based harassment and inequality at the Big Tech company.  

Experience unequal pay or discrimination at Microsoft?

Get a free and confidential consultation with one of our experienced equal employment attorneys. 


Leaked May 2021 internal email thread uncovers reports of pay inequity and gender discrimination at Microsoft

In May 2021, an internal work group called “Technical Women at Microsoft” started an email chain to discuss experiences of pay inequity, as well as gender and race-based discrimination, reports Insider. The conversation began when an employee asked other female co-workers to share if they believed that their compensation was comparable to that of their male colleagues. Some women in the thread stated that they have reason to believe that their male counterparts generally make more than them in both base pay and bonuses.  

In an effort to promote pay equity and transparency at the company, over 1,200 Microsoft employees subsequently shared their salaries, bonus rates and other details like years of experience and demographics on a spreadsheet circulated in the email thread and later shared with Insider.  

Under California labor laws and the laws of many other states, it’s illegal to pay women a different amount than their male counterparts if they are working the same position and have the same level of skill and experience. If you suspect you’re being paid less than your male counterparts or overlooked for promotions, contact our employment attorneys for a free and confidential consultation. 

2021 Microsoft gender discrimination email chain includes reports of gender-based microaggressions

In addition to detailing suspected wide-spread pay inequity, the 2021 email chain includes claims of gender-based microaggressions, such as men excluding female employees from meetings and taking credit for their ideas.  

One employee in the thread observed: 

“Root cause of a lot of this ugly dynamic of dismissing or ignoring women in the room is too often protection of certain (no, most definitely not all) men’s egos.” 

According to Insider, some of the employees say that HR and senior leaders failed to swiftly take action after hearing their reports of harassment and discrimination. One employee described her experience with HR as “futile and extremely stressful.” 

Contact an Employment Attorney

Microsoft hit with gender discrimination and harassment lawsuits and complaints over the past decade

The May 2021 email thread is sadly not the first time female Microsoft employees have voiced concerns over gender harassment and discrimination; according to Quartz, a similar internal email chain surfaced in March 2019 when a female employee who had been in the same position for 6 years asked a colleague for advice on how to move up in ranks. Other allegations shared in the thread ranged from female employees being asked to sit in male co-worker’s laps, to being called sexist names, to being asked to do administrative tasks such as booking dinner reservations, despite being in a technical role. One employee vented: 

“This thread has pulled the scab off a festering wound. The collective anger and frustration is  palpable.” 

CNN Business reports that Microsoft was also previously hit with a lawsuit in 2015, after a computer security researcher named Katherine Moussouris claimed that she was passed over from promotions while her less-qualified male colleagues were promoted, among other allegations. The lawsuit further alleged that as a result of company-wide practices and policies, “female technical employees receive less compensation and are promoted less frequently than their male counterparts.” In 2018, a public court filing revealed that Microsoft’s alleged practices were indeed pervasive, noting that from 2010-2016, hundreds of female Microsoft employees had filed internal gender discrimination and harassment complaints.

Work at Microsoft and tired of inaction? We can help. You shouldn’t have to accept unfair pay and discrimination in your workplace. 

Our Featured Employment Attorneys

Steven Tindall

Steven specializes in employment litigation and has been lead or co-lead counsel on several cases that resulted in settlements of over $1 million.

View full profile

Amanda Karl

Amanda represents employees, consumers, and sexual assault survivors in complex class actions. She also leads the firm’s Voting Rights Task Force.

View full profile

Aaron Blumenthal

Aaron represents consumers, employees, and whistleblowers in class actions and other complex litigation.

View full profile

Jeff Kosbie

Jeff represents workers and consumers in complex class actions involving data breaches and privacy, employment law, and other corporate misconduct.

View full profile

About Us

Gibbs Law Group is a California-based law firm committed to protecting the rights of clients nationwide who have been harmed by corporate misconduct. We represent individuals, whistleblowers, employees, and small businesses across the U.S. against the world’s largest corporations. Our award-winning lawyers have achieved landmark recoveries and over a billion dollars for our clients in high-stakes class action and individual cases involving consumer protection, data breach, digital privacy, and federal and California employment lawsuits. Our attorneys have received numerous honors for their work, including “Top Plaintiff Lawyers in California,” “Top Class Action Attorneys Under 40,” “Consumer Protection MVP,” “Best Lawyers in America,” and “Top Cybersecurity/ Privacy Attorneys Under 40.”

titan of plaintiffs bar award
best law firm ranking
chambers USA leading firms award
daily journal top plaintiff lawyers award