Lawyers acting for seven current and former employees of Microsoft have filed a $5bn class action racial discrimination claim against the American software giant.
The lawsuit announced at a press conference yesterday alleged that the past and present Microsoft employees suffered racial bias in company evaluations, compensation, promotion and retaliation.
It was the fourth major anti-discrimination legal challenge to Microsoft in the last three months.
Willie Gary, senior partner at the Florida firm of lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said that in 1999 only 2.6 per cent of Microsoft's 21,400 employees were black, as were only 1.6 per cent of the company's 5,200 managers.
Black Americans make up approximately 13 per cent of the US population.
Microsoft spokesman Dean Katz said the company was wholly committed to ethnic diversity.
By Ben Willmott