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Former Security Strategist Sues Microsoft for Gender Discrimination

A former senior security strategist at Microsoft has filed a class-action lawsuit alleging gender discrimination. The lawsuit, filed this week in a federal court in Seattle, comes nearly a year after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s infamous and poorly received remarks suggesting that "karma" was the best way women should expect to receive salary increases and promotions.

While Nadella swiftly issued an apology, saying Microsoft "wholeheartedly" supports closing the pay gap and responded a week later with a new company diversity initiative, the incident was the latest to put the spotlight on discrimination in the tech industry.

Katherine Moussouris, who filed the complaint, is accusing Microsoft of passing her over for promotions ultimately given to less-qualified men, as reported by Reuters. The report added she was also told by supervisors that they didn’t like her "manner or style."

The complaint also claims Moussouris was given a low bonus after reporting sexual harassment. After seven years with Microsoft, she resigned in 2014 after the company failed to address what she described as "pervasive discrimination."

Additionally, Moussouris complained that other women were also discriminated against and consistently ranked below their male counterparts in routine performance reviews.

"Microsoft systematically undervalues the efforts and achievements of its female technical employees," her attorney Adam Klein of New York-based Outten & Golden told Reuters.  

While at Microsoft, Moussouris "was instrumental in prompting" the company to create its bug bounty program launched in 2013, according to a Wired rreport. While at Microsoft, Moussouris also was a BlueHat content chair, lead subject matter expert in the US National Body for the ISO work item 29147 "Vulnerability Disclosure" published last year, editor of the 2014 International Standard ISO 30111 Vulnerability handling processes and owner of vulnerability disclosure policy for Microsoft in terms of overall strategy, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Moussouris left Microsoft in May of 2014 to become chief policy officer at HackerOne.

Microsoft in a statement issued to Wired disputed the allegations. "We’ve previously reviewed the plaintiff’s allegations about her specific experience and did not find anything to substantiate those claims, and we will carefully review this new complaint."

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 09/17/2015 at 12:16 PM


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