Jury Rejects Discrimination Claim in Silicon Valley Case

But jurors still deliberating one count in Ellen Pao vs. Kleiner Perkins
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 24, 2015 8:00 AM CDT
Updated Mar 27, 2015 5:59 PM CDT
Jury Says Silicon Valley Firm Didn't Discriminate
Ellen Pao leaves the Civic Center Courthouse during a lunch break in her trial in San Francisco.    (Eric Risberg)

Jurors in a high-profile Silicon Valley case say a prestigious venture capital firm did not discriminate against a female employee. The jury in San Francisco reached a verdict today on three of four counts in the lawsuit filed by Ellen Pao against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Confusion surrounded the fourth count, one alleging that the company fired Pao in retaliation for her lawsuit, reports the Wall Street Journal. A court clerk initially announced that the company had been cleared, but when the judge polled the jury, he found the result was 8-4, not 9-3 as thought. Nine votes are necessary for a decision, and the judge sent the jurors back for more deliberations. If they can't get a ninth vote, that count could end in a hung jury, reports USA Today.

The case has shined a spotlight on the technology and venture capital sectors, where women are grossly underrepresented. Industry consultants said the case had sparked some companies to re-examine their cultures and practices for potential gender bias. Jurors heard conflicting portraits of Pao during closing arguments. Her attorneys said she was an accomplished junior partner who was passed over for a promotion and fired because the firm used different standards to judge men and women. A lawyer for Kleiner Perkins countered that Pao failed as an investor at the company and sued to get a big payout as she was being shown the door. (More Silicon Valley stories.)

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