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Microsoft to stop use of NDAs prohibiting disclosure of alleged 'discrimination, harassment, retaliation, sexual assault'

Microsoft Logo at Ignite
(Image credit: Future)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft announced several initiatives to improve the experience of its employees.
  • The company will no longer use nondisclosure agreements to prevent the discussion of alleged "discrimination, harassment, retaliation, sexual assault" and other workplace issues.
  • Microsoft will also stop using non-compete agreeements that restrict employees from moving to other companies.
  • Many of the company's changes coincide with new laws in Washington state, where Microsoft is based.

Microsoft announced initiatives centering around employee relationships today. The tech giant’s plans focus on four areas: “Empowering employee mobility, Fostering a safe space for concerns, Increasing pay transparency, [and] Conducting a civil rights audit.” Notably, several changes coincide with laws related to the same topics. Microsoft announced its plans in a recent blog post (opens in new tab)

The tech giant will no longer use non-compete agreements to restrict former employees from moving to other companies. “We are announcing that we are removing noncompetition clauses from our U.S. employee agreements, and will not enforce existing noncompetition clauses in the U.S.,” explained Microsoft. 

“In practice, what this means is those U.S. employees will not be restricted by a noncompete clause in seeking employment with another company who may be considered a Microsoft competitor,” continued the company. 

Microsoft noted that the change is effective today but that it does not affect senior leadership, meaning partners and executives. 

The company will also stop using nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) to restrict people from “disclosing alleged conduct that they perceive is illegal discrimination, harassment, retaliation, sexual assault, or a wage and hour violation occurring in the workplace,” said Microsoft. 

Starting no later than January 2023, Microsoft will publicly disclose salary ranges for its internal and external job listings in the United States. 

Lastly, Microsoft announced a commitment to a civil rights audit of the company’s workforce policies and practices by a third party. Microsoft promised that the audit will be finished in FY23. 

Microsoft’s blog post did not mention the “Silenced No More” bill in Washington state that makes it illegal to prohibit employees from discussing “illegal acts of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour violations, and sexual assault,” as explained by Rep. Liz Berry (D-Seattle) (via GeekWire (opens in new tab)). That law goes into effect this week. 

The blog post also did not mention a new law in Washington state that requires companies to disclose salary ranges in job posts (via GeekWire (opens in new tab)). That law goes into effect in January 2023.

Microsoft has had a tough week when it comes to employee relations. Its head of HoloLens, Alex Kipman, is set to resign following repeated accusations of inappropriate behavior (opens in new tab). Kipman was accused of effectively watching “VR porn” in front of employees, fostering “a culture that diminishes women’s contributions,” and inappropriate touching. 

Sean Endicott is the news writer for Windows Central. If it runs Windows, is made by Microsoft, or has anything to do with either, he's on it. Sean's been with Windows Central since 2017 and is also our resident app expert. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com.