The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Seattle, Washington by former technician Katherine Moussouris, who claims she was passed over for promotions given to less-qualified men and was told supervisors did not like her “manner or style.”
Vole gives employees numerical rankings based on performance evaluations, but routinely gave female workers lower ratings based on subjective criteria.
Adam Klein of employment law firm Outten & Golden in New York, one of the firms representing Moussouris claimed that Vole systematically undervalues the efforts and achievements of its female technical employees.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last year was criticized for suggesting at an industry conference that women in technology jobs should not ask for pay raises and should have faith that their companies will compensate them fairly. He later apologised, but also maintained that the company paid men and women equally.
Wednesday’s lawsuit is the first of its kind filed against Microsoft but the US Bureau of Labor Statistics thinks that men in the tech industry last year earned about 24 percent more than their female colleagues.
Moussouris, who is seeking to represent a class of any female U.S. technical workers employed by Microsoft since 2009, also claims she received a low bonus in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment.
She resigned in 2014 after seven years with the company, the lawsuit says, because supervisors failed to address what she claimed was pervasive discrimination.
The lawsuit said damages would be in excess of $5 million. Microsoft currently has about 117,000 employees.