Jury Rules Against Ellen Pao…Then Goes Back To Deliberate

Mar 27, 2015 at 5:47 PM ET

*UPDATED: After two days of deliberation, a jury found that venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers was not liable for discrimination. Ellen Pao, the current interim CEO of Reddit and former junior partner at the firm, claimed that Kleiner discriminated against her based on her gender, then subsequently retaliated against and fired her for complaining. The jury disagreed, and ruled against her—but not emphatically enough—at first.

Since the jury’s decision on the retaliation charge—the last of four claims—was by a vote of 8-4, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn sent them back to deliberate further. At least nine votes are needed to achieve a verdict. So, just under the 5 p.m. PST deadline, the jury returned with a “no” verdict on the retaliation, with a vote of 9:3. They rejected all four claims.

Pao, who sued the venture capital firm for $16 million, also stood to receive up to $160 million in damages, because last week Judge Kahn allowed her to also seek punitive damages. Under California law, to receive additional compensation, a plaintiff must prove they were the victim of malice, fraud or oppression. Said Kahn in his decision, “Per this standard, there is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that Kleiner Perkins engaged in intentional gender discrimination by failing to promote Ms. Pao and terminating her employment.”

Pao’s was a case that seemed to put all of Silicon Valley on trial. In the past week, two other major discrimination lawsuits were filed against Twitter and Facebook, both alleging that each of the tech giants discriminates in its hiring and promotion of women.

*The story has been updated to reflect court proceedings.

Read More

Ellen Pao’s Case Ends on an Impassioned Plea for Women in Tech (re/code)
The Ellen Pao Trial: What Do We Mean By Discrimination? (The New Yorker)