Men and Women Are Pursuing Gender Equality in Court

It’s been a busy week for litigation around gender equality.Now that Ellen Pao has withdrawn her appeal in her suit against VC firm Kleiner Perkins, Katherine Moussouris is taking Pao’s place as the most prominent gender discrimination plaintiff in America. Moussouris is suing Microsoft, her former employer, alleging that the tech giant unfairly favors male technical workers in its compensation and promotion structures.Moussouris worked at Microsoft for seven years before leaving in 2014, and believes she repeatedly lost out on promotions and bonuses to less-accomplished male colleagues during that time. She also claims that she was the victim of professional retaliation for reporting sexual harassment within her department.The suit is seeking class action status, which could spell big trouble for Microsoft. The company’s recently retired stack ranking system, in which supervisors were forced to rank employees against one another, seems vulnerable to legal challenges that it intensified gender bias and bred a hostile work environment—claims the suit puts forth explicitly. If those claims hold up, it’s not clear how much Microsoft would owe to how many current and former employees.Meanwhile, the New York Times has coverage of a groundbreaking new trend in gender discrimination lawsuits: more and more of them are being filed by men. As a growing cohort of men who want to be involved at home encounter workplaces that are unfriendly (and sometimes downright hostile) to those priorities, fathers are taking legal action against employers who don’t provide enough parental leave or punish men who take time off to care for their families.The list of recent male litigants includes Josh Levs, a former CNN correspondent, and Ariel Ayanna, an attorney. Legal experts say we should only expect the trend to grow in the future; according to Joan C. Williams of the Center for WorkLife Law, “Because of the kinds of comments older men are making to younger men, employers are unfortunately sitting ducks for suits based on gender discrimination.”