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Reddit's ousted Ellen Pao abandons Silicon Valley sexism sueball
Woman in technically-not-able-to-afford-to-continue-suit stands by KPCB sexism claims
Reddit's ousted interim CEO, Ellen Pao, has dropped her appeal over a lost gender discrimination suit she brought against a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.
Pao was fired by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) in 2012, more than five months after she had sued the firm for gender discrimination. The firm stated Pao was dismissed for performance reasons which were unrelated to her lawsuit.
Although the suit did much to raise the profile of discrimination issues, particularly affecting women in technology, a jury eventually found against her claim in March this year.
KPCB sought $1m in costs against Pao, though a judge later reduced this to $275,000. The firm added that it would waive the claim for costs if Pao dropped her appeal.
In a statement given to Re/code, Pao announced she has now dropped her appeal.
To resolve the lawsuit, I will pay Kleiner Perkins for its legal costs as awarded by the court, although I firmly believe people who bring employment discrimination claims in good faith should not be forced to pay their employer’s legal bills.
I will also drop my appeal, since I cannot afford the risk of even more costs to fight against a firm with tremendous financial resources and massive legal and PR armies.
Re/code reported that KPCB's position was that Pao had no grounds for appeal. Pao maintains this is not the case:
To be clear, Kleiner and I have not reached any agreement to settle this matter. Settlement might have provided me with financial benefits, but only at the great cost of silence.
To quote their lawyer: "KP is not interested in a settlement without a non-disparagement provision," meaning I would not be free to speak the truth about my experiences. I refuse to be silent on these important issues.
A Kleiner Perkins spokesperson stated that firm is "glad to put this trial behind us."
There is no question diversity in the workplace is an important issue. KPCB remains committed to supporting women and minorities in venture capital and technology both inside our firm and within our industry.
Pao has maintained the validity of the gender discrimination suit, and asserted that "[f]rom the first day of trial, I saw how hard it was going to be to win when every potential juror who expressed a belief that sexism exists in tech — a belief that is widely recognised and documented — was not allowed to serve on the jury". ®