back to article Judge on Microsoft gender discrimination case finds 'flaw' in class grouping argument

US District Judge James Robart had some challenging questions for lawyers representing a group of female ex-Microsoft staff for gender discrimination in a Seattle District Court yesterday. At issue in the hearing was a motion by lawyers for the plaintiffs – engineers Katherine Moussouris, Holly Muenchow, and Dana Piermarini – …

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A salient lesson

Never put down to conspiracy what can be explained by incompetence.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A salient lesson

Oh, right. Pogroms were just general suggestions to keep the Jewish population suppressed. Not actual detailed instructions to massacre them. That would be an entirely different policy to keep the Jewish population down.

So no organization means the deaths were completely incidental and we should all just forget about it. Right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A salient lesson

Wow, how the f*ck did you get to that?

From the article, which I find reading helps when commenting.

"The problem of Microsoft's system is they tell managers, 'Here are the policies, here are the criteria,' and don't actually give sufficient guidance on how to rate [those] criteria."

There is the incompetence argument right there and that wasn't even Microsoft that said it. There is no mention of Jews, Christians, Muslim or Pastafarians in the article.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A salient lesson

I can't even be bothered to downvote your point as I feel that somehow this would validate and/or give credence to what is little more than trolling/insanity.

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Facepalm

Re: A salient lesson

Fastest invocation of Godwin's law I've seen for a long time. Either that or a superb bit of trolling.

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Re: A salient lesson

I think that's got to be the quickest Godwin's I've seen in 30 years on the Internet.

GJC

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Re: A salient lesson

@Blank-Reg

Sorry, I failed to read to the end of the thread. There's probably a law for that, too...

GJC

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Re: A salient lesson

Or it could be setting up plausible deniability.

After all if there's nothing "in writing" you have a good get out of jail free card as can blame incompetence.

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Thorny issue to be sure, but . . .

The fact that they are all women should not be enough to validate a class action.

Besides, more than 8,000 checks sounds like a lot of payout hassle for a poor lawyer. Methinks a "cy pres" is in order here, no ? I'm there's at least two Universities that would gladly devote their bank accounts to holding that money in the "rare" case someone actually comes to claim it.

Right ?

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Re: Thorny issue to be sure, but . . .

As has been pointed out billions of times before, there's a common reason for this. It's usually used in arguments about the "Gender pay gap" though:

Women as a whole work fewer hours than men, in lower qualified fields, with more time off, longer time off, less overtime, more flexible working hours, more likely to work part-time, more likely to have missing years in employment history (Maternity leave usually).

It's not a global conspiracy that women usually earn less - it's because of the choices they make, which men don't. Despite this women bosses, "Queen bees", have been proven to discriminate against women to keep competition away from themselves

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Re: Thorny issue to be sure, but . . .

Do not confuse generalities with specifics. This is a case brought by women working in the same roles as male colleagues. The women involved asserted that for the same effort in meeting or exceeding project goals, they were not rewarded as well as their male counterparts. Because it's framed in terms of what should be measurable goals, rather than working hours or leave, the claim will account for differences of short-hours working, family leave or maternity (and men take parental leave too these days)

The number of hours you spend at work doesn't matter - it's what you deliver. The US has this stupid face-time culture that equates presence in the office with "working", when most of that extended day is spent just dicking around. If the long hours were really spent working, there wouldn't be so many kids' toys scattered around tech companies. Maybe practices have changed, but I still write code with a keyboard, not with a Nerf gun, and I prefer to work in an office, not some weird frat-house for man-children. (A local tech business installed a slide in their office... an actual funfair-style slide... words fail me)

If it helps to get over a thinking block, try to think of the claim this way: those managers who evaluated staff tended to favour their pals when performing evaluations. Now, consider that as the managers themselves were male, those friends were more likely to be male than female. Outcome: female workers meeting the same standard of performance were less likely to be advanced than male workers at that standard.

(Yes, the reverse occurs in fields where women outnumber men. No, it's not okay there either).

Nonetheless, it looks like their lawyer has scuppered the whole thing: by allowing that there was no oversight or control, it's really hard to then construct a solid argument that there was concerted practice of discriminating against women.

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Re: Thorny issue to be sure, but . . .

> try to think of the claim this way: those managers who evaluated staff tended to favour their pals when performing evaluations. Now, consider that as the managers themselves were male, those friends were more likely to be male than female.

Why try thinking about it in any other way than what the women claimed happeend?

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Re: Why try thinking about it in any other way than what the women claimed happeend?

The question was about Class Action, not about whether the claim was right or not.

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Re: Thorny issue to be sure, but . . .

> If it helps to get over a thinking block, try to think of the claim this way: those managers who evaluated staff tended to favour their pals when performing evaluations. Now, consider that as the managers themselves were male, those friends were more likely to be male than female. Outcome: female workers meeting the same standard of performance were less likely to be advanced than male workers at that standard.

But then that's not discrimination against women. It's pure, unadulterated cronyism. Anyone not in that managers crony circle, whether male or female, would not be given the better evaluations.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Thorny issue to be sure, but . . .

I think the point is and one you agree with is while it may be sexist of the people making the decisions that doesn't make it the fault of Microsoft.

You can argue till the cows come home if the people making the decisions are sexist or not. I suspect some are but most aren't and the only way to sue anyone for that is on an individual basis.

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TIgra 07 re so wrong about the gender pay gap. First of they don't just compare wages but they compare Jobs. IE they look at a Women that are doctors then a man that are doctors then they compare wages. They calculate by the hour not by total wage which would take in to account if a man works more hours.

So to say it's cause choices women make is bullshit.

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FAIL

RE: Kain

Bullshit Kain. The comparisons done to "validate" the gender pay gap were disproven as far back as the 70s. They do not take into account job positions, hours worked, overtime, or years of service. They are vague for a reason and use a snapshot of an entire industry (usually medical) to claim women earn less than men.

If women could be paid less than men then why would anyone hire men?

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FAIL

"women pay gap myth" (search it)

@kain preacher

'sauce' please. Just because you say it does not make it true.

Here's a nice 'sauce', one of many articles that showed up from searching "women pay gap myth":

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-gender-pay-gap-is-a-complete-myth/

from linked article: "The data is clear that for the same work men and women are paid roughly the same. The media need to look beyond the claims of feminist organizations."

Everybody that _I_ know would be VERY unhappy if their company or one of the managers were engaging in the kinds of wage discrimination that is alleged to be happening in this case. I would expect that, at Microsoft, their managers might be even MORE outraged by such things (they're mostly lefties, or so it appears, and lefties are supposed to be more 'politically correct').

What you have in THIS legal case, I believe, is a bunch of people with hands out going after "deep pockets". And I think the plaintiffs have shown their hand a little too early, based on the Judge's response to their arguments [i.e. they're arguing both sides and their arguments conflict].

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tigra 07

If women could be paid less than men then why would anyone hire men?

A recent survey found that women graduates earned less than male graduates with the same qualifications straight from uni. So the headlines were quick to say "gender pay gap" but the figures further went on to say that more women graduates found jobs than male ones. So it might well be that you're right, fewer employers are prepared to higher males when females can be hired more cheaply, also they probably get more kudos points for hiring women than men. There is of course another possible explanation that they offered as many jobs to men as women but more men said "Sod that, I'm not working at that rate, I want to to earn more" so we see more women offered jobs and men seeing a higher average salary. It's probably impossible to tell what is really happening, but it's easy to point fingers and get click bait.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tigra 07

Your point about men saying 'sod that' is true.

Men are more likely to travel long distances from their family to improve their salary, they take more risks and are more likely to quit their job if they're unhappy with the salary. Men also tend to demand higher salaries when applying for a new job.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tigra 07

"Men also tend to demand higher salaries when applying for a new job."

Maybe because when men do it, they're perceived as being confident, and when it's women, they're perceived as being aggressive?

There's a good condensate of the state of what's known:

https://www.bustle.com/p/why-is-it-so-hard-for-women-to-ask-for-a-raise-43454

Generally speaking, there's that problem about the notion of women "choosing" to discontinue their career, typically, to have kids: as species go, what choice is there? Could they just delegate that to men? AFAICT, they can't. So even if we accept for the sake of the argument that salary levels should be lower, the fact is that women are tasked to do both for our society. And pregnancy is something difficult and risky.

In a nutshell, they do more, get rewarded less, and many people keep rationalizing that they're getting only what they deserve.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tigra 07

> Maybe because when men do it, they're perceived as being confident, and when it's women, they're perceived as being aggressive?

But in who's perception? The managers or the women themselves? I find that women often have a lower opinion of themselves than those around them do.

Years back when I was an employee I asked for a raise in my review and after a bit of discussion I was able to justify what I wanted to my manager and I got a raise. A few months a woman on my team was complaining she'd not been given a raise. I asked whether she'd requested one "I didn't know I could do that" next year she got a raise.

I find this odd as in my experience women are far more likely than men to haggle over prices and to shop around. They'll walk to the supermarket at the far end of town if potatoes are a penny a pound cheaper than the nearest shop whereas I couldn't be arsed.

Back to wages.

Is it discriminatory for an employer to hire staff who'd accept a lower pay offer?

Is it sexist if this results in the average starting rate for women ends up lower than it is for men?

Is it racist if an employer move a department out of the EU to India because they can hire(or fire) staff more cheaply there?

How about when you go shopping. If you chose to buy something from Tescos instead of the corner shop because it's cheaper, is that discrimination.

These are not simple questions and there's no simple answers.

Perhaps it will take a generational change for women to have more confidence in their own worth.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Tigra 07

A recent survey found that women graduates earned less than male graduates with the same qualifications straight from uni. So the headlines were quick to say "gender pay gap" but the figures further went on to say that more women graduates found jobs than male ones. So it might well be that you're right, fewer employers are prepared to higher males when females can be hired more cheaply, also they probably get more kudos points for hiring women than men. There is of course another possible explanation that they offered as many jobs to men as women but more men said "Sod that, I'm not working at that rate, I want to to earn more" so we see more women offered jobs and men seeing a higher average salary. It's probably impossible to tell what is really happening, but it's easy to point fingers and get click bait.

Also right now recruiting more women = good, recruiting men = meh.

Also most new doctors, by some margin are now female - yet we're not even talking about gender imbalance or how men will be treated for male-only problems by female doctors.

Also far more female teachers, particularly in younger years education establishments.

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Re: Tigra 07

Also most new doctors, by some margin are now female - yet we're not even talking about gender imbalance or how men will be treated for male-only problems by female doctors.

Also far more female teachers, particularly in younger years education establishments.

Weren't the figures for last year that 35% more females went to university than males, in the UK?

As to male teachers, for my kids there was not a single male teacher at their primary school the entire time they were there.

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Re: Tigra 07

As to male teachers, for my kids there was not a single male teacher at their primary school the entire time they were there.

Well, duh, men just cannot be trusted around children. It's not like in the history of teaching a female teacher has ever, ever had relationships with male students or even with a female student, or like got pregnant with a student.

Obviously.

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Re: Tigra 07

Affirmative action and official/unofficial quotas might have to do something with the number of women hired compared to men. With so many companies, small and large, openly and loudly proclaiming how they will give special treatment to "preferential groups" without even the fleeting mention of merit, the effect of these policies is probably a substantial distortion of the labour market and the economy as a whole.

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Re: BrownishMonstr

This actually puts me in an interesting situation. Being gay, it would be pretty obvious if a fake sexual assault or harassment claim were made against me (as has been known to happen to male teachers (even to a close friend)). Then again, i absolutely despise children, so i don't think i'd like to work with them.

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Real Slurp Issue

While the class definition may have been too broad, Slurp still has a problem of defending idiotic staff rating practices aka 'Stack Ranking'. Slurp's implementation was a lawsuit waiting to happen as it required the bottom performers in a group to be canned without regard to the quality of their work. An idiotic policy by definition. This leads to a tense, brutal workplace with a lot of politics being played to avoid being in the bottom group. The politics will inevitably lead to unfair practices that are at least borderline illegal if not illegal cropping up over and over.

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Anonymous Coward

"claimed she received lower performance ratings than her male peers, despite performing better"

Permormed better by what metric? Does she have any proof? Just because she thinks that she performed better doesn't mean that she actually did.

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WOW! Women claiming discrimination and MICRO[$|S]HAFT! in one article. You guys must be in hog heaven.

Not getting involved in the actual argument this time. Fed up of futile discussion. Just poking at all those down voting thumbs...

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