Microsoft pays $14 million to resolve a California probe into employee leave

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Microsoft pays $14 million to resolve a California probe into employee leave
Microsoft pays $14 million to resolve a California probe into employee leave

Microsoft Corp. responded to claims made by a California regulator that it improperly penalized workers for taking family or medical leave.

In order to resolve allegations made by a California agency that it unlawfully punished employees for taking medical or family leave, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O) has agreed to pay $14 million, the agency announced on Wednesday. In documents in state court, the California Civil Rights Department charged that the tech giant was depriving its California-based employees of stock awards, promotions, and raises as retaliation for their use of parental, disability, pregnancy, and family-care leave since 2017.

The agency stated that such employees, who were predominately women and persons with disabilities, had lower performance evaluation ratings, which in turn affected their compensation and possibilities for advancement as well as their career path. The Civil Rights Department claimed that the deal will end a multiyear inquiry, pending approval by a state judge. Microsoft’s settlement deal contained a denial of guilt. A firm representative expressed their disagreement with the agency’s accusations in a statement.

According to the spokesman, “Microsoft is dedicated to creating a work environment where our employees feel empowered to take time off when needed and have the flexibility and support they need to succeed both personally and professionally.” A number of sizable settlements, mostly involving sex-discrimination lawsuits, have been announced by the state’s Civil Rights Department in recent years. These comprise a $100 million agreement with Riot Games, the manufacturer of video games, in 2021; a $54 million settlement with Activision Blizzard in 2018; and a $15 million settlement with Snap, the parent company of Snapchat (SNAP.N), opening a new tab, taking effect last month.

The commission charged Microsoft with violating workers’ rights to take leave and discriminating against them based on their gender and handicap. The number of workers who could profit from the settlement was unclear. Microsoft, headquartered in Redmond, Washington, employs roughly 6,700 people in California, according to court documents. The director of the Civil Rights Department, Kevin Kish, claimed that Microsoft did not assist its employees when they required time off to take care of their families and themselves.

The agreement made public today will protect against discrimination at the corporation going forward and offer affected employees immediate relief,” Kish stated. Microsoft has also agreed to pay $14.4 million in addition to hiring an outside consultant to make sure that policies do not discriminate against employees who take time off, that workers may file complaints, and that managers and HR staff receive training.

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