Business, Economics and Jobs

Silicon Valley's Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers hits back over harassment claims


Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner John Doerr (L) and TechCrunch Founder and Co-Editor Michael Arrington speak onstage at Day 3 of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011 held at the San Francisco Design Center Concourse on September 14, 2011 in San Francisco, California.


Araya Diaz

Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has struck back at the plaintiff in a much sexual harassment lawsuit that, according to Reuters, "has become the talk of Silicon Valley."

KPCB issued a detailed response to the allegations by investment partner Ellen Pao that it turned a blind eye to sexual harassment of her by another partner, and to his eventual retaliation when spurned, and that it systematically discriminated against her and other female employees.

Reuters reported that the seven-page KPCB response hit back at some of Pao's more salacious claims, including: "that the firm gave male-only dinners, and that a managing partner encouraged Pao to marry another partner she believed was harassing her."

Pao had also described the firm as a place where women were labeled "buzz kills," All Things Digital wrote.

The high-profile firm also asked a California state court on Wednesday to dismiss Pao's lawsuit, filed last month, the Wall Street Journal reported.

It accused Pao as having a "sense of entitlement," and "twist[ing] facts and events to create legal claims where none exist."

According to All Things Digital, Kleiner Perkins’ two main points were that Pao’s employment record was marked by "performance flaws" and that she failed to complain earlier.

"KPCB generally denies each and every material allegation of the Complaint and further denies that Plaintiff has been damaged in the manner alleged, or in any manner or amount," the firm wrote in its response, according to Vator News.

"KPCB vigorously denies that it discriminated against Plaintiff, retaliated against Plaintiff after she complained about harassment or discrimination, or that it violated its obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination from occurring.”

However, in her suit Pao had said she raised concerns about sexual harassment by partner Ajit Nazre in 2007, in 2008, and 2009, speaking to Kleiner's head of human resources and other partners such as John Doerr and Ted Schlein, as well as the firm's outside human resources consultant.

And, Reuters noted, the KPCB response appeared not to acknowledge other complaints of Pao, including that women got smaller shares of profits at the firm and that female junior partners got fewer board seats compared to male partners.

A hearing is set for July 10.

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