Women at Microsoft filed 238 complaints with the company's HR department between 2010 and 2016, including 108 complaints about sexual harassment and 119 about gender discrimination, according to a filing.
A Microsoft logo is seen a day after Microsoft Corp's $26.2 billion purchase of LinkedIn Corp in Los Angeles, California, U.S., on June 14, 2016.
Adding in complaints of sexual harassment, retaliation and pregnancy discrimination, women at the Redmond-based technology giant formally raised issues about their treatment to human resources a total of 238 times, according to court documents. The figure was exposed by a plaintiff in a suit that alleges Microsoft systematically denied pay raises and promotions for women. Microsoft denies it had any such policy.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs are pushing to make it a class action lawsuit - which could balloon to more than 8,000 women.
Lawyers for Microsoft and the plaintiffs have been throwing legal barbs at each other in the case for more than two years, in the form of studies into the company's review and investigative practices and in testimony from experts in the fields of human resources, gender studies and workplaces.
The plaintiffs claimed Microsoft "does not properly investigate or redress" such complaints, and note only one of the gender discrimination complaints was "founded".
The lawsuit calls the number of harassment and discrimination complaints "shocking" and describes the response from Microsoft's employment relations investigations team as "lackluster".
Companies generally keep information about internal discrimination complaints private, so it is unclear how the number of complaints at Microsoft compares to competitors.
U.S. District Judge James Robart is hearing the case in U.S. District Court in Seattle and is expected to decide on the class-action request in the next several months.
Microsoft said in court filings that the plaintiffs did not identify practices that impact enough employees to warrant a class action, and that it spends more than $55 million per year to promote diversity and inclusion. The firm claims that plaintiffs could not cite an example in which company policy was violated as regards pay raises and promotions.
Microsoft had argued the numbers shouldn't be released as they might deter it from reporting future abuses, but Reuters reported that a court-appointed official said this was "far too remote a competitive or business harm". Google also faces a similar complaint from women who taught employees' children at the company's childcare centre.