Pao v. Kleiner Perkins

Ellen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC and DOES 1-20 is a lawsuit filed in San Francisco County Superior Court under the law of California by executive Ellen Pao for gender discrimination against her employer,Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers . Overlapping with a number of condemning studies on the representation of women in venture capital, the case was closely followed by reporters, advocacy groups and Silicon Valley executives. [1] Given the tendency for similar cases to reach out, Pao v. Kleiner Perkins described it as a landmark trial once in February 2015. [2][3] On March 27, 2015 the jury found in favor of Kleiner Perkins on all counts.


Ellen Pao

Ellen Pao is a Chinese American woman from New Jersey. [4] [5] [6] [7] She has a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University , a Ph.D. from Harvard Law School and an MBA from Harvard Business School . [4] [6]

From 1994 to 1996, Pao worked as a corporate attorney at Cravath, Swaine & Moore . In 1998, Pao worked at WebTV . [8] Pao worked at several companies in Silicon Valley including BEA Systemsas Senior Director, Corporate Business Development from 2001 until 2005. [6] [9]

In 2005 Pao joined Kleiner Perkins as a senior member of staff for John Doerr , a senior partner, a degree in engineering, law, and business, and experience in enterprise software. [6] In 2007 she became a junior investing partner with Ted Schlein as her boss [10] [11] . According to Pao, she had the job title of junior partner from her date of hiring [12] and was promised an opportunity to move into an investing role. [13] Doerr, who has expressed awareness of the gender gap at venture capital firms, mentoredPao, liberally providing feedback, aim, in the end, agreed with the other senior partners who had made negative evaluations of her work at the firm. It was Pao’s contention that they were similar, but promoted. [14]

On May 10, 2012 Pao filed a gender discrimination lawsuit contre her use [15] alleging workplace retaliation by a married junior partner, Ajit Nazre, with Whom she Review: had an affair. [16] She planned to continue working on the firm but left on October 1 claiming that she was terminated. [17] [18] Her lawyer said she was fired in retaliation for her lawsuit and the complaint was made to cause that cause of action. [18]

Pao joined Reddit in 2013 and became interim CEO in November 2014 after Yishan Wong resigned. [19]

Kleiner Perkins

Main article: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is a venture capital firm located in Menlo Park in Silicon Valley . The Wall Street Journal and other media have called it one of the largest and most established venture capital firms [20] and it has been called “one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital providers” by “Dealbook”. [21]

The firm specializes in investments in incubation and early stage companies. [22] Since icts founding in 1972, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers HAS backed entrepreneurs in more than 500 ventures Including AOL , , Navigenics , Citrix , Compaq , Electronic Arts , Genentech , Genomic Health, Geron Corporation , [23] Google , Intuit , Juniper Networks , Nebula , [24] Netscape , Sun Microsystems , Symantec ,Verisign , WebMD and Zynga . KPCB focuses on global areas of practice – digital, green tech and life sciences. [25]

ALTHOUGH there are Fewer women than men in Both junior and senior positions employed by Kleiner Perkins, ict gender gap is smaller Than That of MOST other venture capital firms and Its MOST prominent female partner, Mary Meeker , HAS called Expired it “the best place to be for a woman in the business. ” [26]

Representatives for Kleiner Perkins stated that they had offered a five-month transition, with pay, to an operating role , [27] and only fired effective October 31, 2012 when she rejected the offer. [28] They claim that the decision to reassign is made for performance reasons unrelated to the lawsuit. [6] [29] [30]

Causes of action

The original case was filed under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act and contained three causes of action: [18]

  • Employment discrimination based on gender:
12940. It is an unlawful employment practice, unless based on a bona fide occupational qualification, or, except where based on applicable security regulations established by the United States or the State of California:(a) For an employment, because of the race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, marital status, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, or military and veteran status of any person, to refuse to hire or to employ a person or a person to employment, or to discriminate against the person in compensation, or conditions, or privileges of employment. [31]
  • Workplace retaliation:
(h) For any employment, labor organization, employment agency, or person to discharge, expel, or otherwise discriminate against any person in any proceeding under this part. [31]
  • Failure to take reasonable steps to prevent gender discrimination:
(k) For an employment, labor organization, employment agency, apprenticeship training program, or any training program leading to employment, to be able to prevent discrimination and harassment. [31]

Following the termination of the complaint was a second report of retaliation, termination, was added. [18] The total damages claimed by the totaled $ 16 million. This is the amount that Pao floated in a conversation with COO Eric Keller when asked what it would take to change her mind about staying at the company. Pao explained that it was a payment to Kleiner Perkins, so it would be painful to not fix problems. [32] The plaintiff also made a plea for punitive damages . [33] Although Judge Harold Kahn initially leaned to denying this motion, he approved it on March 21, 2015. [34]


The matter Went to trial in late February 2015 with jury selection on Monday, February 23, and opening statements on Tuesday, February 24. [35] The trial, lasting 24 days, resulted in a verdict for Kleiner Perkins. [36] It was covered by the national media and elicited broad commenting on the issues raised. [37] The case was live blogged and tweeted , to the point that the constant coverage provided both humorous and serious feedback to lawyers and witnesses. [38]

The trial was heard before a jury [39] of 6 women and 6 men drawn from various employment and ethnic backgrounds [40] and Judge Harold E. Kahn [41] and San Francisco Superior Court . [42] [43] Kleiner Perkins was principally represented by Lynne Hermle of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe . It was also supported by Jessica Perry of the same firm and by its own counsel Paul Vronsky. [44] Pao was represented by Alan Exelrod of Rudy Exelrod Zieff & Lowe [45] and by Therese Lawless of Lawless & Lawless. [46]

It was a trial to a jury of 12 who, under the rules of the court, were allowed to submit written questions to the witnesses. The judge was also permitted to question. Testimonials were presented to the trial and transcripts of their testimonies were available to counsel for the opposing sides and could be compared to the testimony of the witness in the courtroom. There were hundreds of exhibits consisting of documents and emails which had the hearing, jury, and hearing.

Plaintiff’s case

The plaintiff presented her case first, arguing that they are more likely to be dismissed than women who have experienced sexual harassment. Pao asked that Ajit Nazre, the partner who initiated a sexual relationship with her, was responsible for much of this harassment. Pao said that he began his life after having ended the relationship. [47] To characterize the company’s response, it was explained that $ 22,000 was deducted from its payload and that it was able to recover from multiple instances of harassment. [48]More Pao said that she felt the need to move from green tech to digital division to avoid him. Pao was asked if she objected to having Nazre’s office moved to the same corridor as her own. However, she claims that when she said “yes”, the company responded by saying that Nazre’s. [8]

It has been explained that it is an investment in RPX Corporation , which has been designed to fight patent trolls , which led to an IPO . While arguing that this is a good reason for a promotion, it is a very important issue for KPCB’s. [49] They were unvenly applied between women and men. Performance reviews were raised to show contradictory reviews such as “too bold” and “too quiet”. [50] As further evidence that they are not appreciated, they are pointing to potential investments in Twitter and The Climate Corporationwhich were turned down after Pao proposed them, both of which were seen to be profitable later on. [51] [52]

A number of incidents Were Described in the plaintiff’s case comprenant un Valentine’s day gift That She regarded Inappropriate, was talking in a company jet That She felt objectified women, had dinner in Al Gore ‘s apartment to qui No. women Were Invited and a ski trip which one woman on a technicality. [53] [54] Pao stated that they did not speak out when they did not want a reputation as a complainer. [55]Kleiner Perkins Concerned with a Memorandum of Understanding on the Future of Discrimination. The plaintiff argued that the defendant took several steps to cover up the aspects that are considered poorly on its record of gender equality. [56]

Defendant’s case

The defendant’s case placed on its large ratio of companies compared to other venture capital firms. An example statistic was that it had 11 female partners and a 20% female staff compared to the average of 7-11% based on studies in 2011 and 2013. [57] [58] A 2014 study found that this number dropped to 4% when only senior partners were considered. [1] The defense also argues that it is paid more than the most colleagues. Pao’s salary after bonuses finally reached a peak of $ 560,000. [59]They also pointed to several opportunities that they have afforded to them, such as those of many other junior partners. [60] To argue that Pao’s firing has been justified, they have repeatedly stated that they have “entitled” and “not a team player”. [53]

Kleiner Perkins contended that Pao’s job description had been mostly managerial and that limiting her involvement in investing was not a sign of discrimination. [61] They also said that the position of senior citizens in the past was stale. [62] The defense brought in that it is expected that lawsuit will be brought to bear. [63] They also argued over the acceptance of severance paya tacit approval that the company was in its rights to fire her. The package was valued at $ 400,000 but Pao did not receive the full amount of a job less than a year ago. [27] There are also reports that she turned it down entirely. [64] Stating that many of the plaintiff’s claims were stale , KPCB’s side offered some explanations for the incidents she described and alleged that she saw discrimination where none existed. [65] They claimed that this was more of an unpleasant coworker.

The defendant tried to introduce another line of argument based on. They Stated in a sidebar That She May-have done this to help Alleviate the financial troubles of her husband Buddy Fletcher , a hedge fund manager Who filed for bankruptcy in 2012. HOWEVER, Judge Harold Kahn Ruled out this defense Stating That It Would instead undue scrutiny on the plaintiff’s personal life. [66] Furthermore, Pao maintained that their money had always been separated by a prenuptial agreement . [67] At the time, Fletcher was reading about the trial and not making courtship appearances, on the advice of Pao and her lawyers. [68]


While most of the witnesses had some affiliation with Kleiner Perkins, many of them had left the firm by the time the trial took place. Some witnesses, such as John Doerr, were called by both the plaintiff and defense lawyers. [69]Amol Deshpande, Chi-Hua Chien, and Wen Hsieh, saying that they have been promoted ahead of time, and that they have gone public. [70] Hermle said that they were not promoted as they were started to be businesses before being hired.

The first witness was Tracy “Trae” Vassallo who agreed to testify against a conversation in which Pao called her “untrustworthy”. Her appearance was described as a surprise. [71] Paid Vaccination with KPCB but had problems with Chien and Nazre. About Nazre, she said he was going to be in a bath and was proposing to have a dinner after that. She testified that her boss Ray Lane told her that she “should be flattered” by his advances and asked her to “talk to her husband” before deciding what to do. Lane denied making the train how. [72]Together with explaining that it has been confided in Pao and filed the complaint, which has finally been reported to have been stated in the past. Her description was “it sounds petty, but people were arranged in the room around how much they had in the discussion.” [70]

The second witness was Chi-Hua Dog who has been invited to stay at the Al Gore dinner. For the ski trip, he said that it was done in the same year, and that it was done in the same year. He denied the plaintiff’s claim that he said “women kill the buzz.” Watching the dinner, Aileen Lee testified that she and John Doerr complained about the lack of women. [73] Pao said she felt humiliated because she lived in the building where the event was held and explained to the guests. [49]Paolo’s side presented emails that showed Complaining about her in a vulgar way. This dog was told that he was at home with Pao later on. The defense also argued that Lee’s firm Cowboy Ventures would have had his reputation for women had been doubted. [54]

Kleiner Perkins CFO Susan Biglieri testified that Mary Meeker and Beth Seidenberg were the first two women in the firm’s history to reach their highest rank of managing member. Pao’s legal team argue that these promotions are made to save face in the wake of Pao’s discrimination complaints. [74] Biglieri also testified that the firm’s anti-discrimination policy, though distributed internally, was not published until Ellen Pao’s filed the lawsuit. Eric Keller, Eric Keller, co-authored by Eric Keller. [75]

Kleiner Perkins: Rejecting claims that she was hired into an operating role. [76] Some of Pao’s duties included reviewing 1,800 iFund applications, writing part of Mary Meeker’s USA Inc. report and ghostwriting many of Doerr’s speeches including a TED Talk . [8] [51] Do you know what you’re doing? [77]Doerr also remembered that to be convinced, to pay to be frustrated with Ajit Nazre. Another of Pao’s attempts to leave was protested by Ted Schlein, her boss after Doerr. Although Schlein testified that he “reluctantly” hired Pao, he also said that he was convinced of it when he was considered to be one of the original jobs in Google Ventures . Schlein ‘s comments are frequently critical of Pao, using “entitled”, “passive” and “territorial” to describe her. He was criticized for the fact that venture capital skills were “not part of Ellen’s genetic makeup.” [78]Doerr that he frequently defended Pao and advocated for the rewritten until finally supporting her termination. He said “the junior partner is an up-or-out role.” We have no lifetime junior partners. When Hermle presented a list of female partners to Doerr, he described a role in all of their careers. However, it was claimed that they were responsible for some of the reasons for which they stated that “white male nerds” were a safe investment. [77] Although Pao spoke positively of Doerr, she commented that it was often raised and suggested that she did not receive a board seat at RPX. [79]Doerr stated that having junior partners is a guideline, not a rule. [80] Pao contended that Dog had “five or six” board seats as a junior [55] but the defended took five years to join a board. [65]

Testimony of the plaintiff most of the second week. She described the fact that they were harassed by Nazre. When questioned about this, the only one of them was Tina, inviting theories that the women had settled with Kleiner Perkins and signed non-disclosure agreements. [81] On cross-examination , Hermle found an inconsistency with Pao’s deposition on the question of whether she asked for an Equal Opportunity Employment policy. [11] Lori Park, Pao discussed her options with Lori Park. These revealed that Pao had applied for jobs atYouTube and Menlo Ventures . [40] Some issues with how Pao responded to termination were also raised. Pao said that it makes sense to her to the CEOs of the three companies in her immediate network that Ted Schlein chastised her for doing so. [27] On the stand, Pao objected to the way Employment Law Alliance investigator Stephen Hirschfeld Responded to the discrimination complaints by Trae Vassallo and herself. She Alleged que la carryforwards used biased language, Softened the airplane incident by changing the name of a pornographic show to Entourageand focused on eliminating KPCB’s liability rather than addressing the concerns of employees. [82] When Hirschfeld was questioned by Lawless, he revealed that his reports did not include a matrix. [83] This criticism was repeated by Allison West of Employment Practices Specialists, who testified that the firm’s investigation of gender issues was insufficient. Pao’s allegations against the people writing them. [84]

Contrasting Pao’s statement that she has a bias with Aileen Lee and Trae Vassallo, the defendant named the three female witnesses who stated that they never felt discriminated against: Mary Meeker, Beth Seidenberg, and Juliet de Baubigny. [85] Private human resources consultant Rhoma Young and Paul Gompers . [86] [87] Another professor testifying for Kleiner Perkins, David Lewin of UCLA, alleged that Pao’s claim to $ 16 million was worthless. [88]When Mary Meeker testifies, she describes Pao as “insecure” and “quiet” and recalls being invited to a second Al Gore dinner. [51] Beth Seidenberg compared venture capital to the medical field and said it would be an influx of female talent as well. [89] Juliet de Baubigny testified more directly about Ellen Pao and condemned her clothing of making complaints against coworkers. [90] She also denied using the word “sex addict” to describe Ajit Nazre, something that the plaintiff cited as evidence that his hostility was common knowledge. [81]

Kleiner Perkins named Andrew Jody Gessow, a passenger of the private flight Pao described as offensive. He claimed that he was able to take care of the subject. [91] Senior partner Randy Komisar also testified that he was joined by Ellen Pao. He has stated that he is respectful of John Doerr’s decision in an email. [92]Komisar said that his friendship with Pao deteriorated over the word “hate” when she wrote in a later email that the board of RPX “hated him”. Pao feel uneasy was a Valentine’s day gift from him. SPECIFICALLY It was the Book of Longing by Leonard Cohen with Whom Pao Claimed to be unfamiliar. [63] One of the last people to testify was a senior partner Matt Murphy who described Pao as “pushy” and “aggressive”. [93]He was also embarrassed when Pao fell asleep at a board meeting. Although it has been discussed in detail in the past few days, it has been reported that it has been made to be safe and secure. [94] Discussing a negative performance review, Exelrod asked Murphy to explain why Mike McCue . Murphy’s response was that McCue was known for saying overly positive things. [95]

Jury instructions

The jury was reminded of the plaintiff’s claims in which number 1 could be considered: [65]

  1. Kleiner Perkins discriminated against Ellen Pao because of her gender.
  2. Kleiner Perkins retaliated against her because of conversations in December 2011 and her memorandum in January 2012.
  3. Kleiner Perkins failed to take all steps to prevent discrimination against her.
  4. Kleiner Perkins retaliated by firing her after her conversations and memorandum.

There were no sexual harassment claims. [65] The standard of proof was preponderance of the evidence , [65] which is more likely to be true than not.

Despite the title of “junior partner,” Ellen Pao was an at-will employee who could be said to have a lawful cause of action or actions in their own right. Substantially motivated by gender discrimination and / or retaliation. “” Substantial Reasons and motivating factors are more than trivial or remote Reasons and motivating factors. ” [65]

It was explained that compensatory damages are an estimate of the past and future lost earnings. Other, more complicated and technical, compensatory damages were reserved for future determination in the event of a favorable verdict for plaintiff. [65]

If the jury has defended its actions, it may have considered punitive damages after the initial verdict was returned. There was a 7-page verdict form. [65]

Closing arguments

Alan Exelrod made the closing argument for plaintiff, saying that the defending leaders “ran Kleiner Perkins like a boys’ club.” Lynne Hermle made the closing statement for defending, focusing on the issues of the numbers of women employed and the allegedly discriminatory events. [65] According to her, the plaintiff was fired because, while she was an excellent executive, she was not able to perform in venture capital at a senior level. Therese Lawless presented the rebuttal on behalf of the plaintiff, saying “women will be judged in one way and another in that country.” [44]She also thanked an anonymous member of the jury whose question revealed that an evaluation, which was actually reviewed by Matt Murphy and Ted Schlein, 5 of which reviewed Pao positively. [44]

Submission and verdict

The case was submitted to the jury on noon on March 25, 2015. [44] A unanimous verdict was not required, only support of 9 of the 12 jurors, 75%. [83] It was reported that when deliberations began, impressions of the jurors were 8 siding with Kleiner Perkins, 2 siding with Ellen Pao and 2 undecided with all groups split evenly by gender. [96]

The initial verdict was written shortly after 2 pm on Friday, March 27. The jury found 10-2 in favor of Kleiner Perkins on the first 3 claims. The jury, which was found to be in favor of Kleiner Perkins on the fourth claim of retaliation by termination. The jury deliberated for a final decision on the outcome of the claim. [97] According to the jurors who spoke to the media the jury focused on their verdict. [98]

On the same day, Steve Sammut and Marshallette Ramsey jurors revealed what their votes had been. Ramsey supported the plaintiff and said that she encouraged other women in Pao’s situation to stand up for themselves. Her reason was that it “seemed that the men, with the same character flaws that Ellen was cited, were able to propel and continue.” [99] Although Sammut was not convinced that it was a problem, it was hoped that Kleiner Perkins would still be punished for it. [96]

Costs and appeal

The defendant requested costs of $ 972,814, 90% of which was for expert witness fees. Kleiner Perkins stated that the fee would be waived if the plaintiff thing not to appeal . [98] On June 18, 2015 [100] the court awarded $ 275,966 to Kleiner Perkins, stating that the disparity in economic resources between the parties was too great to justify the original amount. [101] Pao ‘s side of the argument is a disadvantage of a case and it is a disadvantage of the case. [102]The appeal, which would have been held in the First District Court of Appeal, was in favor of the verdict. [103]

On September 10, 2015, sources reported that Pao was dropping her appeal, citing an inability to afford further litigation. [104] [105] In a Re / Post code on the topic, Pao wrote about the importance of discussing gender bias and stated that it was rejecting requests from KPCB to sign a non-disparagement agreement. It was said that this would have been responsible. [106] However, on September 17, Kleiner Perkins accepted the dropping of Pao’s appeal without the $ 276,000 cost reimbursement. [107]


Following the case, a number of other people filed against high-profile companies, as with Chia Hong c. Facebook and Tina Huang c. Twitter . [108] A number of publications credited Pao and her case with focusing attention on the issue of gender discrimination and workplace sexism, especially in the venture capital and technology industries, and for inspiring others to act. [2] [36] [109] The impact of Pao and the case became known as “the Pao effect”. [110] [111] [112] [113] [114] [115] [116] Afterwards, Pao v. Kleiner PerkinsKatie Moussouris filed a suit against Microsoft . [117]

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