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  • Writer's pictureRealFacts Editorial Team

Settlement Reached: Microsoft Faces Scrutiny Over Employee Leave Policies

Microsoft building

The civil rights department said this week, “Because Microsoft workers who use or will use protected leave are disproportionately women and people with disabilities, Microsoft’s challenged policies and practices also have a discriminatory adverse impact based on sex and disability that Microsoft cannot justify based on business necessity,” Microsoft has agreed to settle a $14.4 million case in California concerning accusations of retaliating against employees who took legally protected time off. The California Civil Rights Department announced the settlement, stating that most of the funds will go to workers in California who have taken parental, family care-taking, or disability leave since 2017. The state agency pointed out concerns that Microsoft’s policies disproportionately affected women and individuals with disabilities, suggesting discriminatory impacts without clear business justification.

The complaint outlined how Microsoft’s practices allowed managers to consider protected leave when evaluating employee ’impact,’ affecting critical aspects like annual bonuses, promotions, and merit increases. Despite employing approximately 6,700 people in California and over 221,000 globally, Microsoft faced scrutiny over its handling of protected leave and its potential impact on employee performance evaluations.

Under CEO Satya Nadella’s leadership, Microsoft has focused on diversifying its senior ranks and addressing harassment and discrimination issues. The company has seen an increase in women’s representation across various leadership levels, emphasizing its commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace. In response to shareholder input and external audits, Microsoft has committed to revising its policies on sexual harassment and gender discrimination to strengthen employee protections and organizational accountability.


Microsoft has reiterated its commitment to supporting employee well-being and promoting a workplace culture that encourages necessary leave. While disputing some of the agency’s claims, the company plans to implement training programs for managers and HR staff in California to ensure compliance with leave policies and reduce the risk of retaliation against employees exercising their legal rights.


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