Microsoft settles permatemps lawsuits for $97 million


Associated Press

SEATTLE — Microsoft agreed to pay $97 million to settle federal lawsuits filed on behalf of thousands of long-term temporary workers, who often received lower pay and fewer benefits than their permanent counterparts.

The settlement, which won preliminary approval Tuesday from U.S. District Judge John Coughenour, included employment-policy changes made since 1997 to reduce the disparities.

Between 8,000 and 12,000 current and former employees who worked at least 750 hours over at least nine months are expected to receive settlement payments, said plaintiffs’ lawyer Stephen Strong.

Many of the so-called permatemps, who had been at the company for as long as 14 years, have been converted to so-called regular jobs since the lawsuits were filed in 1992, Strong said.

A range of benefits was at issue, but the payments will be determined using a formula based on how much discounted stock was purchased by full-time workers making equivalent salaries, Strong said.

Company spokesman Dan Leach said some workers prefer temporary status, finding more flexibility, better pay or greater opportunity.

"Lots of folks are making that choice," Leach said Tuesday.

Former two-year temp Marcus Courtney conceded that some might like the setup, but "it’s not the majority."

"How many stories have you ever seen about high-tech contractors retiring at 35 because they made millions of dollars?" asked Courtney, who co-founded the pro-union Washington Alliance of Technology Workers in 1998.

Lucrative stock-option opportunities were not at issue in the lawsuit.

Microsoft employs 42,000 people worldwide — about half in the Puget Sound area — and has 5,000 to 6,000 temporary staff or contingency workers at any given time.

Many work as independent contractors or as employees of more than a dozen temporary help agencies. "Some are truly temporary employees and always have been," Strong said.

In the mid-1990s, Microsoft adjusted the guidelines that managers use to determine if an assignment should go to a permanent or temporary worker, Microsoft spokesman Matt Pilla said.

Microsoft also now favors temporary-staffing agencies that offer better benefits, he said, and limits the length of temporary assignments to 12 months.

The company announced in February that it would set the one-year limit for temp workers and require a 100-day break between assignments. The new policy took effect in July.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

A south-facing view of the proposed site for a new mental health facility on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, near 300th Street NW and 80th Avenue NW north of Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
County Council OK’s Stanwood behavioral health center

After an unsuccessful appeal to block it, the Tulalip Tribes are now on the cusp of building the 32-bed center in farmland.

Most Read