Sex Discrimination Case Grips Silicon Valley

A technology chief executive has been grilled by jurors in a $16m sex discrimination lawsuit which is enthralling Silicon Valley.

Ellen Pao is suing her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which was an early investor in the likes of Amazon and Google.

The hearings at San Francisco Superior Court, which is tweeting updates on the trial, have frequently been standing room only.

The 45-year-old plaintiff faced tough questions on Friday about, among other things, her affair with a fellow partner at the company.

Ms Pao, now interim chief executive of social news website Reddit, has testified that she and other women were passed over for advancement and endured harassment in a male-dominated culture at Kleiner.

The plaintiff, who has a law degree and MBA from Harvard, says male senior partners took the credit for her work on successful investments.

But Kleiner says Ms Pao was fired from her $560,000-a-year job in October 2012 because she lacked leadership and interpersonal skills.

On Friday, Ms Pao’s fifth day on the witness stand, the six men and six women of the jury had the opportunity to quiz her. Some US states allow jurors to pose their own questions in civil cases.

She alleges the discrimination began after she complained about harassment from married male colleague Ajit Nazre, with whom she says she was pressured into having an affair in 2006.

One juror asked if Ms Pao considered it “appropriate professional behaviour to enter into an affair with a married man?”

She said: “Going back I would not have done it again, but I didn’t think it was inappropriate at the time.”

She said Mr Nazre had told her his wife had left him.

Ms Pao, who joined Kleiner in 2005, has testified that she and other women were barred from work trips on private jets and ski resorts.

She also said she was not invited to an important Kleiner dinner with former US Vice President Al Gore.

Kleiner has been trying to portray Ms Pao’s lawsuit as financially motivated.

The firm wanted to introduce evidence about Ms Pao and her husband’s money troubles, including tax liens and bankruptcy.

But Judge Harold Kahn denied the motion.

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14 March 2015 | 9:48 pm – Source:


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