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