Silicon Valley Firm Being Sued for Sex Discrimination
February 25, 2015
The Silicon Valley venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is being sued in a San Francisco state court by Ellen Pao and another female junior partner. The women allege that in 2012 the firm denied them a promotion after they complained about being sexually harassed by a male executive in the firm.
Pao is a 45 year old woman and is the daughter of Chinese immigrants. She joined the firm in 2005 and was excited to work with entrepreneurs. Instead, she was faced with a workplace in which woment were sexually harassed and denied promotions. Moreover, when the women complained about the sexual harassment, the man doing the sexual harassment was promoted.
The attorney for Pao, Alan Exelrod, stated that the firm has a history of denying promotions to female employees. In the past 40 years, the fimr has promoted only one woman junior partner to a senior investing partner.
Pao is seeking at least $16 million in alleged salary and bonuses lost because she was not denied a promotion and paid less than her male co-workers. She also alleges that she was denied a share of the firm's profits from investments.
Kleiner maintains that Pao had a consensual affair with the junior partner, Ajit Nazre, whom Pao claims harassed her. Moreover, they contend that Pao never complained about Nazre's conduct until she hired an attorney five years after the incident occurred. The firm denies that she was denied a promotion on account of her gender, but rather, she lacked leadership skills, didn't like her job, clashed with co-workers and was advised to leave because of her poor performance.
Nazre left Kleiner in 2012 and works in India. He is not named as a defendant in this case.
The case is Pao v. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC, CGC-12-520719, California Superior Court (San Francisco).