Microsoft, temporary workers settle

Associated Press

SEATTLE – Microsoft has reached a $97 million settlement of federal lawsuits from temporary workers who challenged the software giant’s employment practices, Microsoft and attorneys for the temps announced Tuesday.

Between 8,000 and 12,000 current and former employees are expected to receive payments under the settlement, said plaintiffs’ attorney Stephen Strong in Seattle.

The settlement, worked out with assistance from U.S. District Judge William Dwyer, was given preliminary approval by Judge John Coughenour on Tuesday.

“The case was brought to achieve two goals: to challenge the two-tier employment at Microsoft and to recover benefits for employees. We feel we achieved those to a large degree,” Strong said. Many temporary workers have been converted to permanent jobs since the lawsuits were filed in 1992, he said.

While a range of benefits were at issue, “the one that we won on was exclusion from the employee stock-purchase plan at Microsoft,” he said.

The payments that plaintiffs receive will vary, based on the time period of the work involved and the duration of employment, said Strong, who worked with attorney David Stobaugh on the case.

At any given time, Microsoft employs 5,000 to 6,000 temporary staff or contingency workers, company spokesman Matt Pilla said. Microsoft employs 42,000 people worldwide – about 21,000 of them in the Puget Sound area.

“We’re pleased to reach an agreement that’s acceptable to all sides and which resolves the litigation,” Pilla said. “Microsoft has always has been an excellent place to work, and we value every individual who contributes to our products and services.”

Microsoft is “constantly evaluating employee policies to ensure the company continues to be a great place to work,” he said.

Changes made since the mid-1990s “are such that the complaint against us would not have been filed if they had been in place. We’re confident of that.”

“It’s obviously a very major victory for long-term temp workers at Microsoft,” said Marcus Courtney, a two-year temp who co-founded the pro-union Washington Alliance of Technology Workers – backed by the Communication Workers of America – in 1998. WashTech has attempted to organize workers at Microsoft and other high-technology companies.

In the mid-1990s, Pilla said, Microsoft adjusted the guidelines managers use to determine if an assignment should be a regular position or one to assign to a temporary.

Microsoft also has changed the way it selects agencies that staff temporary positions to favor companies that offer better benefits, he said, and has limited 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.

More than a third of Microsoft’s new employees over the past three years have been former temporary workers, the company said at that time.

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

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

Grayson Huff, left, a 4th grader at Pinewood Elementary, peeks around his sign during the Marysville School District budget presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
State OKs Marysville plan with schools, jobs on chopping block

The revised plan would mean the loss of dozens of jobs and two schools — still to be identified — in a school district staring down a budget crunch.

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

The Trestle’s junction with I-5 is under evaluation (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Here’s your chance to give feedback on the US 2 trestle and its future

Often feel overwhelmed, vulnerable and on shaky ground? So is the trestle. A new $17 million study seeks solutions for the route east of Everett.

John Pederson lifts a flag in the air while himself and other maintenance crew set up flags for Memorial Day at Floral Hills Cemetery on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Volunteers place thousands of flags by veterans’ graves in Lynnwood

Ahead of Memorial Day, local veterans ensure fellow military service members are never forgotten.

Brian Hennessy leads a demonstration of equipment used in fire training at the Maritime Institute in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘Ready to go full sail’: Maritime Institute embarks at Port of Everett

The training facility offers Coast Guard-certified courses for recreational boaters and commerical vessel operators.

George Beard poses for a photo outside of the the Stanwood Library in Stanwood, Washington on Wednesday, May 8, 2024.  (Annie Barker / The Herald)
From sick to the streets: How an illness left a Stanwood man homeless

Medical bills wiped out George Beard’s savings. Left to heal in his car, he got sicker. Now, he’s desperate for housing. It could take years.

Logo for news use featuring Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Lawsuit says Snohomish County deputies not justified in Sultan shooting

Two deputies repeatedly shot an unarmed Sultan man last year, body camera video shows. An internal investigation is pending.

An airplane is parked at Gate M9 on Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois. (Jordan Hansen/The Herald)
Good luck to Memorial Day travelers: If you’re like me, you’ll need it

I spent a night in the Chicago airport. I wouldn’t recommend it — but with flight delays near an all-time high, you might want to pack a pillow.

Editorial cartoons for Friday, May 24

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Cascade’s Mia Walker, right, cries and hugs teammate Allison Gehrig after beating Gig Harbor on Thursday, May 23, 2024 in Lacey, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Seniors Wilson, Tripp power Cascade softball past Gig Harbor

The pair combined for three homers as the Bruins won the Class 3A state softball opening-round game.

The original Mountlake Terrace City Council, Patricia Neibel bottom right, with city attorney, sign incorporation ordinance in 1954. (Photo provided by the City of Mountlake Terrace)
Patricia Neibel, last inaugural MLT council member, dies at 97

The first woman on the council lived by the motto, “Why not me?” — on the council, at a sheriff’s office in Florida, or at a leper colony in Thailand.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.