BLOOMBERG: The actions of Microsoft are being seriously questioned after a 24-year-old intern was allegedly raped by a Microsoft employment, who the company not only carried on employing but allowed to work alongside the woman.
Microsoft’s lack of action in the case was revealed as, part of a trove of internal files unsealed on Nov. 29 in a two-year-old class action lawsuit alleging gender discrimination at Microsoft.
The documents shed new light on the company’s struggle to deal with reports of harassment and on internal debates over whether women were treated fairly.
It’s not known if any cases of harassment or sexual confrontations have taken place at Microsoft Australia or whether Microsoft Australia has settled any cases as their PR Company Ogilvy PR refuses to talk to ChannelNews because we have questioned their actions in the past.
While personal information such as names, dates and departments are largely redacted, the confidential files detail harassment complaints made by company veterans, incidents investigated by human resources, and internal scepticism over the equal pay data Microsoft publicises.
Questions are also being raised about the way that Microsoft who employ spin doctors such as Ogilvy PR tried to hide information relating to claims that females have made against the Company.
Apparently, Microsoft put in place numerous legal hurdles to keep employee complaints under wraps.
According to Bloomberg who exposed the case the woman who was raped was an intern when her Microsoft colleagues took her out for drinks in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighbourhood.
According to her lawyer it now appears that during the night, the male intern sexually assaulted her—or “forcibly penetrated her while she was sleeping,” according to her lawyer’s letter revealed last month.
When she woke, naked and with just flashes of memory, she rushed to the hospital for a rape exam and later filed a police report.
She then reported the incident to her supervisor at Microsoft as well as the company’s human resources department, which promised a prompt investigation and that’s when her problems started.
In the meantime, she was required to keep working alongside the man.
When she discussed getting a restraining order with Microsoft, HR told her if she wanted one, she’d need to change teams, her lawyer wrote.
The girl liked the work and her boss, so she stayed put for the rest of the summer. Microsoft later offered her a full-time job.
And despite the allegations against him, Microsoft also hired her accused rapist.
The company assured her she wouldn’t be located near the man, nor would they have to work together, her lawyer wrote. She took the job and signed a one-year lease for housing, even though she was still waiting to hear about the investigation.
The intern told her story in a February 2014 settlement letter agreed by the Courts.
A Microsoft representative said in a statement that the company works “hard to create a safe work environment for every employee.” The company said that while the intern’s alleged incident didn’t occur at work, it took her claims “very seriously,” and its security and investigations team met with her. “We encouraged her to take her complaint to law enforcement, and offered to connect her with additional resources such as victim advocacy groups,” the spokesperson said, adding that Microsoft also took “practical steps to address concerns she had about her safety.”
Bloomberg also revealed several harrowing stories along with expert reports, regarding three female employees in 2015 alleging systemic disparities in the pay and promotion of women in technical and engineering roles at Microsoft.
As part of the court process to share evidence in the case, Microsoft had to give the women’s lawyers at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP and Outten & Golden LLP more than 150,000 internal documents, including several allegations of harassment and assault, like the intern’s letter.
“I don’t think companies are motivated to truly change their internal culture … until they are publicly held accountable” a lawyer involved in the case said.
The Microsoft intern’s allegations are public—whether she wanted them to be—because of a rare confluence of events. While about two-thirds of workers at large employers have signed mandatory arbitration agreements, they are not standard at Microsoft.
The plaintiffs requested Microsoft turn over individual complaints, and an NDA doesn’t necessarily prevent an employer from disclosing those documents in court, even if it would have prohibited a woman from telling her own story publicly.
The letter on behalf of the former intern, for example, included a proposed settlement for severance, and in exchange offered “a full and complete mutual release.” Details about how things worked out for the intern weren’t included in the disclosures.