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Kleiner Perkins Prevails in Gender Discrimination Case

Posted by Eric Kingsley | May 04, 2015 | 0 Comments

Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC


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Ellen Pao filed suit against Kleiner Perkins in 2012 for $16 million in damages for gender discrimination and retaliation, plus unspecified punitive damages. She alleged that Kleiner Perkins had promoted male partners over equally qualified women at the firm, including herself, and then retaliated against her for raising concerns about the firm's gender dynamics by failing to promote her and finally firing her. Federal and California labor employment laws carry various tenets, statutes and regulations designed to shield workers of either gender from unwanted or unfair discrimination.

Kleiner Perkins responded that Pao, in its view, lacked “the ability to lead others, build consensus and be a team player,” attributes the defendant claims are needed for success in the venture capital sector. The defendant also claimed that Pao received bad performance reviews. Pao alleges her performance was adversely affected by the atmosphere of male entitlement and discrimination, which remains an affront to California and labor law.


On March 27, 2015, a six-man, six-woman San Francisco Superior Court jury sided in favor of Kleiner Perkins on all claims after more than two days of deliberation and more than four weeks of testimony that has been closely watched in Silicon Valley and around the country as tensions over the lack of diversity in the technology industry have swelled.

The jury sided with Kleiner Perkins on all four claims, finding that the firm:

  • Did not discriminate against Pao because of her gender by failing to promote her or firing her.
  • Took all reasonable steps to prevent gender discrimination against her.
  • Did not retaliate against Pao by failing to promote her after she raised concerns about the position of women at Kleiner Perkins or filed the lawsuit.
  • Did not retaliate against Pao by firing her after she raised concerns about the position of women at Kleiner Perkins or filed the lawsuit.

Pao, is currently the interim CEO of the message board site Reddit.

The case is Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC, Case No. A136090, In the Court of Appeals of California, First District, Division Five.

Experienced California Employment Lawyers

To further discuss gender discrimination, or a potential claim on your behalf, feel free to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us via email.

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

In practice since 1996, the firm's lawyer and co-founder, Eric B. Kingsley, has litigated complex cases and written numerous appeals in state and federal courts on behalf of the California law firm Kingsley & Kingsley, including More than 150 collective actions. Mr. Kingsley focuses his practice ...


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