A former Microsoft employee filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the tech giant, alleging she was terminated in retaliation for coming forward after witnessing discrimination against others at the company.
According to court documents, Christilda Dawson worked at Microsoft from February 2014 to October 2018 in a variety of divisions as a marketing manager and program manager. Microsoft said Dawson was let go as part of a round of layoffs that eliminated most of the positions on her team. But Dawson alleges she was terminated, not laid off, and that the company later filled her role.
In the lawsuit, filed in February in King County Superior Court, Dawson claimed to observe several instances of discrimination. That included an instance when, according to court documents, Dawson witnessed a member of Microsoft senior management instruct a Microsoft hiring manager not to hire a prospective employee because, “‘She is a Latino who cannot speak English properly, we cannot put her in front of our partners. Please come up with another reason to say no to her.'”
Dawson, who claimed to earn several performance awards and stellar reviews during her time at Microsoft, alleges she brought these issues up with management and filed a written complaint in March 2017. As a result of her speaking up, Dawson claims she was forced out of her position on the U.S. Small Medium Business team, had her bonuses eliminated, was cut out of company travel, isolated from senior management and eventually terminated.
Microsoft responded to the claim, denying Dawson’s allegations that she was terminated rather than laid off. In its response, Microsoft said its employment decisions with Dawson “were based upon legitimate, nondiscriminatory, and reasonable business reasons that were in no way related to Plaintiff’s age, color/race, or sex.”
Microsoft sent this statement to GeekWire in regard to the case:
“We take discrimination concerns seriously and investigate them. We also prohibit retaliation for raising concerns. We’ve carefully reviewed the complaint and believe the allegations are unfounded. In this case, changing business needs led to the elimination of the majority of the positions on plaintiff’s team.”
Here is the full lawsuit from Dawson, as well as Microsoft’s response: