Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a well known Silicon Valley venture capital firm, is being sued for gender discrimination and retaliation by partner Ellen Pao. We applaud the tenacity of women like Ellen Pao who have the courage to stand up and fight for their rights in the workplace.
Pao claims that in 2006, a former employee, Ajit Nazre, made sexual advances toward her and signaled that adverse employment actions would follow if she did not comply. Pao admits that she did have sex with this employee and was retaliated against when the relationship ended. She also claims that she was sexually harassed by, Randy Komisar, another employee at the firm, in 2007.
Pao alleges that she repeatedly complained to multiple partners at Kleiner Perkins about the sexual harassment and retaliation she suffered in the workplace. She also forwarded sexual harassment complaints made by other female employees. She claims that management was aware of her complaints and retaliated against her by moving her office, attempting to have her relocate toChina, and excluding her from an annual performance review which precluded her from requesting promotions or raises.
Pao additionally alleges that gender discrimination was a regular part of the office environment at Kleiner Perkins, with women repeatedly left out of meetings and denied business opportunities. Pao asks for economic and punitive damages.
Kleiner Perkins has commented that the case has no merit and that they intend to defend against it vigorously.
The incidents alleged by Pao could also fall under quid pro quo sexual harassment and/or hostile work environment sexual harassment. However, as the incidents with both harassers occurred in 2006 and 2007, Pao was unable to bring these claims due to the statute of limitations. See our article here on the statute limitations surrounding California sexual harassment cases.