Microsoft fired about 20 employees for harassment in one year

Microsoft president: Businesses must calm tech fears
Microsoft president: Businesses must calm tech fears

Microsoft fired roughly 20 employees for sexual harassment complaints filed in the course of a single year, according to a memo from the company's top human resources executive.

Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft's (MSFT) chief people officer, told employees on Thursday that the company received 83 sexual harassment claims in the United States from July 2016 through June 2017.

"Nearly 50% were found to be supported in part or in full following the investigation, and more than half of these resulted in termination of an employee who engaged in unacceptable behavior," Hogan wrote in the memo to all employees.

The new details in the memo are an attempt to push back against the idea that Microsoft doesn't take harassment and discrimination complaints seriously enough, after unflattering claims were made public in a court document this week.

The documents, from a lawsuit filed by a former employee, alleged that women at Microsoft filed 238 complaints about harassment and discrimination with the company's HR department between 2010 and 2016.

The lawsuit said that only one of the 118 gender discrimination complaints was considered "founded" by Microsoft's employment relations investigations team.

Related: Microsoft received 238 gender discrimination and harassment complaints

In her memo, Hogan said reports suggesting Microsoft doesn't "take these issues seriously and don't investigate complaints thoroughly" included "inaccurate and misleading data."

"We want people to be able to raise their concerns. We take these concerns seriously and we investigate them thoroughly. And where we find issues, we take appropriate action," she wrote.

In addition to the harassment figures, Hogan also said Microsoft received 84 complaints about gender discrimination during the same time period. About 10% of those complaints "were found to be supported in part or in full," she said.

Hogan stressed that Microsoft has more than 65,000 employees in the United States alone.

The lawsuit and Microsoft's response come at a time when the tech industry, like much of corporate America, is under scrutiny for its treatment of women in the workplace.

Top venture capitalists have resigned amid charges of harassment. Google (GOOG) has found itself in the crosshairs of the Labor Department over gender pay disparities. And Uber fired 20 employees over a sexual harassment probe last year.

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