Microsoft to resolve case regarding entitlement to protected leave for California workers.

Microsoft Settles Lawsuit Regarding Entitlement to Protected Absence for Workers in California

Microsoft has agreed to pay $14.4 million to resolve a lawsuit in California that claimed the company had retaliated against employees who had taken legally safeguarded time off.

The California Civil Rights Department unveiled the proposed settlement, which, once approved by a state judge, will primarily benefit California workers who availed parental leave, family care-taking leave, or disability leave between 2017 and the present and opt to participate in the resolution.

Allegedly, Microsoft’s actions led to a discriminatory impact on women and individuals with disabilities, as they constitute a significant portion of employees utilizing or planning to avail protected leave. The agency stated that Microsoft’s policies and practices had a discriminatory adverse effect based on gender and disability, unjustifiable by business necessity.

The settlement aims to address concerns raised in the complaint about managers factoring in protected absence when evaluating an employee’s performance, a criterion affecting annual bonuses, promotions, stock awards, and merit increases at Microsoft.

Microsoft, headquartered in Redmond, Washington, employs approximately 6,700 individuals in California out of its global workforce of 221,000 personnel, as per the complaint.

Under the leadership of CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has been working towards enhancing diversity at the executive level and addressing issues related to harassment and discrimination.

The representation of women at various organizational levels within Microsoft has seen an upward trend over recent years, reflecting the company’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and gender equity.

In response to shareholder feedback in 2022, Microsoft pledged to revise its policies on sexual misconduct and gender bias, striving for a more supportive work environment for all employees.

Employees expressed concerns about potential retaliation following requests for protected leave, an aspect highlighted in the California complaint. Microsoft has contested the agency’s allegations as part of the proposed settlement.

A Microsoft spokesperson emphasized the company’s dedication to empowering its workforce to take necessary leaves, supporting their professional and personal well-being. While denying the agency’s allegations, Microsoft affirmed its commitment to learning and evolving to bolster employee welfare.

As part of the settlement agreement, Microsoft will conduct training sessions for managers responsible for evaluating staff in California and HR personnel overseeing bonuses and merit increments. Managers will be instructed not to consider protected absences when assessing employee performance. A consulting firm, APTMetrics, will monitor compliance with these directives.

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