Internal reports in Microsoft lawsuit claim women abused and degraded
EXCLUSIVE: Explosive Microsoft internal reports from 2015 discrimination suit expose how women were ‘abused and degraded’ with men ‘groping’ and ‘spanking’ their female co-workers, as shocking claims of Bill Gates’ pursuit of employees surface
- Documents buried in discrimination case claim Microsoft is a place where women are ‘ignored, abused, or degraded,’ DailyMail.com can reveal
- The 2015 case alleges that male bosses ran a ‘good ol’ boy culture’ that ‘accepts and tolerates abuse and toxic behavior, especially towards females’
- The lawsuit was made public at the time, but an investigation by DailyMail.com uncovered explosive internal complaints
- Employees were called ‘p****’ and c***’ and former chief executive Steve Ballmer was referred to as ‘our limp d*** CEO’
- This comes as Gates reportedly had a years-long affair with a Microsoft employee starting in 2000
- The first plaintiff was Katherine Moussouris, a computer security researcher who worked at the company from 2007 to 2014
- She told DailyMail.com: ‘It was a culture of testing women poorly with impunity and I think these revelations (about Gates) have shown that to the world’
- Women at the company filed 238 complaints with the HR department, of which 108 were about sexual harassment and 118 were gender discrimination
As claims of Bill Gates’ pursuit of female employees surface, explosive internal reports buried in a Microsoft discrimination lawsuit expose how women were ‘abused and degraded’ with men ‘groping’ and ‘spanking’ their female co-workers.
According to a bombshell discrimination case filed in 2015, Microsoft is a company where women were ‘ignored, abused, or degraded’ and male bosses ran a ‘good ol’ boy culture’ that ‘accepts and tolerates abuse and toxic behavior, especially towards females.’
Employees code-named a project ‘Wrecking Ball’ in honor of Miley Cyrus’ raunchy music video and wrote an email called ‘Working Backwards’ filled with stereotypes about women,’ the case claimed.
The lawsuit was made public at the time, but an investigation by DailyMail.com uncovered new internal complaints that are deeply unflattering to the tech giant and its newly-single boss.
A bombshell discrimination case claims Microsoft is a place where women are ‘ignored, abused, or degraded,’ DailyMail.com can reveal This comes as reports of married Bill Gates’ pursuit of female employees surface
The 2015 case claims that male bosses ran a ‘good ol’ boy culture’ that ‘accepts and tolerates abuse and toxic behavior, especially towards females’
Employees were called ‘p****’ and c***’ and former chief executive Steve Ballmer was referred to as ‘our limp d*** CEO,’ the claims.
One woman complained about being asked by a male co-worker why she was ‘dressed like a wh**e’ while another man bombarded a woman with messages offering to ‘spank’ her.
Among the litany of incidents was a man who groped four women in a single night at a work function yet an internal investigation found he didn’t breach anti-harassment rules, writing it off as ‘poor interpersonal awareness’.
The lawsuit claimed: ‘The flagrant and repeated incidents of sexual misconduct toward women at Microsoft reflects the corporate culture in which women are undervalued and underpaid’.
The allegations in the case, which was dismissed only last November, will add to the discomfort of Microsoft executives who are reeling about the claims that Gates had a years-long affair with a Microsoft employee starting in 2000.
Reports this week have said that during his time at Microsoft, Gates ‘pursued’ several female employees even though he was married to his estranged wife Melinda French Gates.
Gates also allegedly had ‘men’s club’ style meetings with the late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and would vent to him about his ‘toxic’ marriage to French Gates, who filed for divorce earlier this month.
The lawsuit against Microsoft was filed in 2015 alleging a ‘policy, pattern and practice of sex discrimination against female employees’
Women were allegedly paid less than men, were promoted less frequently and retaliated against by male managers when they complained, all due to Microsoft’s ‘lack of proper accountability to ensure fairness’.
The first plaintiff was Katherine Moussouris, a computer security researcher who worked at the company from 2007 to 2014.
Moussouris told DailyMail.com: ‘It was a culture of testing women poorly with impunity and I think these revelations (about Gates) have shown that to the world.
‘Not only did he choose his wife from his employees he chose to target several other women to fulfil himself with no consequences.
‘It felt like this culture flowed from the top and it was a culture of paying lip service to diversity and inclusion and not really supporting women in sexual assault claims or their career progression’.
Moussouris said she dropped the lawsuit after Microsoft tried to settle with her but she refused as she would have to sign a gagging order stopping her from speaking about it.
She was later joined by two other Microsoft employees, Holly Muenchow and Dana Piermarini.
The lawsuit was made public at the time, but an investigation by DailyMail.com uncovered explosive internal complaints
The women claimed that between 2010 and 2016 women at the company filed 238 complaints with the Microsoft HR department, of which 108 were about sexual harassment and 118 were gender discrimination.
Just one of the 118 gender discrimination allegations was found to be proven.
The individual accounts ranged from inappropriate touching to at least three women who alleged rape and sexual assault.
Employees were called ‘p****’ and c***’ and former chief executive Steve Ballmer (pictured) was referred to as ‘our limp d*** CEO’
According to employee complaint logs included in the court documents, male employees got away with it because the Microsoft ‘culture accepts and tolerates abuse and toxic behavior, especially towards females’.
One woman wrote to a female superior: ‘In an engineering role, I am surrounded by men and only men in most of my meetings…the good ol boy culture and way of behaving at meetings is alive and well’.
Another complaint log said: ‘It is hard to believe behavior like this, especially by a (redacted) would be tolerated at Microsoft…the behavior I am referring to ranges from a development project code named ‘Wrecking Ball’ after Miley Cyrus’ provocative video, to a hostile t-shirt graphic depicting (redacted), an email titled ‘Working Backwards’ that stereotypes and degrades women, employees being called p****, c***, and Steve Ballmer being referred to as our limp d*** CEO.
‘This cultural backdrop has had a real effect on me. I consider myself to be a strong person. I have a strong track record of performance over a long tenure. I should not feel powerless. But I do. Completely. Powerless’.
Another woman called it a ‘bro culture’ that was ‘not easy or natural for women to fit into this’.
One woman only identified as ‘Andrews’ alleged that a male colleague touched her inappropriately and repeatedly at work events during 2012.
The man made ‘unprovoked comments about her boyfriend’s penis size’ and asked how it compared to her prior boyfriend’s penis size.
The man denied making such statements when questioned by the Microsoft internal. investigation team, known as ERIT.
He claimed that the woman was ‘very flirty and crosses the line first’.
The woman also claimed that at another company event the man said that she looked like a ‘naughty nurse’ and put his hand on her bare thigh.
The woman claimed that the man told her several times not to talk to HR.
Another time during a party the man tried to grab the woman’s arm repeatedly to get her to go to the bar with him.
The report appears to state that a second woman reported similar behavior from the same man and that he pointed to her and said: ‘You have such nice…’ referring to her breasts and buttocks.
The first plaintiff was Katherine Moussouris, a computer security researcher who worked at the company from 2007 to 2014. Moussouris told DailyMail.com: ‘It was a culture of testing women poorly with impunity and I think these revelations (about Gates) have shown that to the world’
Moussouris was later joined by two other Microsoft employees, Holly Muenchow (left) and Dana Piermarini (right)
The man then touched her buttocks even though she told him she was married.
ERIT found that the man breached the company’s rules and the matter was referred to HR.
The most serious incidents in the lawsuit were the three alleged rapes and sexual assaults.
They included a female Microsoft intern raped by a male Microsoft intern who reported the incident to her supervisor and HR.
Despite this she had to continue to work alongside her alleged rapist and when she told her boss she was considering a restraining order she was told she would be moved off the team if she did so.
The rapist was offered a full time job at Microsoft, the documents state.
A letter from the woman’s lawyers to Microsoft stated that the rape happened after a night out drinking when she was unable to make it home on her own so stayed at the man’s house.
The man allegedly ‘kept buying her drinks, despite her clear intoxication’.
The man and his best friend walked the woman home and she went to sleep in the basement.
In the middle of the night the woman ‘undressed her and forcibly penetrated her while she was sleeping’, it was claimed.
The next morning she woke up naked, went to the ER and had a rape exam which revealed damage from being sexually assaulted.
Other claims shed light on creepy behavior by male employees that was more unsettling than potentially criminal.
One female employee complained to HR about a manager and a peer of her manager who ‘grabbed her buttocks in an unwelcome manner in front of the group’.
Witnesses saw the woman ‘jump’ with shock when the man groped her and that she appeared
In a separate allegation, a male employee was seen ‘taking off his wedding ring and showing it to (a female coworker) and dangling the ring in front of her trying to send the message ‘anything goes’.
One complaint from a woman employee stated that in 2008 a male coworker sent her inappropriate IMs (instant messages) on an ‘almost daily basis’.
These messages were sexually suggestive or had a sexual undertone such as commenting that she had a ‘great body’.
The man said one time he would ‘love to know what she and her girlfriends do to one another in a creepy, leering tone’, it was claimed.
In 2009 the man moved to the woman’s team and they became peers but the messages continued, such as saying it was a ‘requirement’ that they get pizza and beer and go see a movie.
When she tried to rebuff him he messaged her: ‘Don’t make me come over there and spank you’.
She replied: ‘Don’t worry, I won’t. He responded: ‘Good because then you will enjoy it and you will start misbehaving all the time. I can help but you have to do your part’.
Another complaint log said: ‘It is hard to believe behavior like this, especially by a (redacted) would be tolerated at Microsoft…the behavior I am referring to ranges from a development project code named ‘Wrecking Ball’ after Miley Cyrus’ provocative video’
In another IM conversation, the man said the woman ‘owed’ him for help he had given her with her job, it was claimed.
Another female employee said she got similar messages from the man which were also sexually suggestive and she found them ‘shocking’.
The first woman claimed that after raising her concerns with HR and ERIT, her manager began to scrutinize her whereabouts and her performance in a way he didn’t before.
The internal investigation concluded that the man did breach its rules about harassment.
ERIT however cleared another man who was accused of groping four women in a single night at a work party in 2013.
According to the incident summary, the first woman said that early in the night she felt a ‘brush on her right arm, from the shoulder down to her elbow’.
As she talked to the man he put his left hand on her left waist and squeezed her, leaving her feeling ‘shocked’.
The second woman was groped around 9pm when the man ‘placed his arm around her waist and pulled her closer to him’.
The summary said that the man ‘moved his hand up and down over her bra strap’, leaving her feeling ‘very uncomfortable’.
The third incident happened around 15 minutes later as the man chatted to a woman at the bar. and put his left hand around her waist and pulled her closer to him.
She felt it lasted ‘far longer than usual and made her feel uncomfortable’.
The fourth and final woman met the man at the bar around 9.30pm and put his right hand around her waist before moving it up and down her back.
She also felt ‘very uncomfortable’.
The man claimed he was ‘shocked’ because it was the ‘first feedback he had received that his behavior was inappropriate’.
He said he felt ‘terrible’ and it was ‘not something I intended to do’ and wanted to apologize.
Gates reportedly had a years-long affair with a Microsoft employee starting in 2000 while married to Melinda
ERIT concluded that the man made the women feel ‘uncomfortable’ but did not breach its rules due to the ‘isolated nature of these incidents and the nature and extent of the touching’.
The man exercised ‘poor judgement and poor interpersonal awareness’, the report said.
During yet another incident from 2016 a woman complained that one time when she was wearing a dress, a male coworker asked her: ‘Why are you dressed like a whore?’
The man claimed she was ‘flaunting her body and her breasts’, before asking: ‘Is that how you want to dress in the office?’
On another occasion when the woman told the man she was going to be in a Microsoft photo shoot, he replied: ‘Because of your boobies?’ (breasts)
The same woman claimed to have been harassed by three other men at work, including one who was married and once leaned over and pretended to kiss her, even though she had a boyfriend.
One email in the ERIT case file says that these allegations ‘may be a reflection of a larger issue in the (redacted) community’.
The lawsuit against Microsoft was dismissed with prejudice in November last year after a judge ruled that it was not a class action matter.
The plaintiffs appealed that decision but lost.
Moussouris said in an interview at the time she stopped fighting the case to focus on the Pay Equity Now Pledge, which she founded to try and put all genders on the same footing in the workplace.
She said: ‘I have dropped my lawsuit because my funds are better put towards solutions that help to implement both real change and demonstrate strong commitment to pay equity in our lifetime for women around the world, leaving behind organizations like Microsoft that pantomime pay equity, while resisting any real commitment to change’.
Gates’ affair with a subordinate came to light to Microsoft in 2019 and board members found that the relationship was inappropriate.
The board hired an outside law firm to investigate and, in the wake of the MeToo movement, felt they did not want Gates to serve any more.
In 2020, just three months after he had been re-elected to his seat, Gates stepped down from the board.
Microsoft has denied his decision had anything to do with the affair.
DailyMail.com has previously reported that during his early days at Microsoft, Gates hired strippers to come to his home in Seattle and swim naked with his friends.
Journalist James Wallace wrote two books on the Microsoft founder in the 1990s and said: ‘He wasn’t a choir boy back then, he wasn’t just this little computer nerd’.
DailyMail.com has contacted Microsoft for comment.
In a 23-page response to the complaint filed during the case the company denied that it was discriminatory.
In a statement given to the media before the case was dismissed, the company said that it has a ‘fair and robust system in place to investigate employee concerns and take appropriate action when necessary’.
A spokesman said: ‘Diversity and inclusion are critically important to Microsoft.
‘We want employees to speak up if they have concerns and we strive to make it easy for them to do so’.
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