Microsoft loses yet another worker dispute

Microsoft Corporation's legal problems continued this week as the Supreme Court let stand a ruling that allows its temporary workers--who are denied stock options and other benefits--to participate in a class action lawsuit against the software giant. In September, Microsoft asked the Supreme Court to overthrow a decision by the U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington that holds Microsoft accountable to over 15,000 claims. The workers, who derisively refer to themselves as "permatemps," filed the suit over seven years ago, alleging that Microsoft was denying them official status as full time employees to prevent having to cough up the benefits, especially lucrative stock options.

"I think they \[Microsoft\] need to change the way they are behaving, and they haven't come to grips with that," said David Stobaugh, who is representing the permatemps. "You can't really settle it until the employer comes to the realization that it needs to change."

Though Microsoft classified the workers as contract workers to avoid paying benefits, the U.S. District Court ruled that they were legally regular employees and, as such, are entitled to all of the benefits that Microsoft offers its other employees. This class action lawsuit applies to all contract and temporary employees who worked for Microsoft from 1987 on, working at least 20 hours a week for five or more consecutive months.

"We want to make it clear we value the contributions of everyone who helps make good software," said Microsoft spokesman Dan Leach, who declined to discuss the case further. "We look forward to putting the case behind us so we can focus on that.

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