Oral arguments are expected to begin Tuesday in the sex discrimination case against the powerful Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
Ellen Pao, who sued Kleiner nearly three years ago, accused the firm of gender discrimination, failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation. I wrote about her case in my column for TheStreet last week.
Pao, who is interim CEO of the micro-blogging site Reddit, says that after she complained of discrimination at Kleiner, she went from being a star among junior partners to an employee viewed as a whiner who had “issues and clashes” with colleagues. She says one coworker badgered her into having an affair, and that a partner at the firm gave her a copy of a book of poetry with sexual imagery.
Kleiner has asked the judge to clear the courtroom when there’s evidence being presented about its proprietary business information and financial performance, among other things. Even if it wins on that motion, there are sure to be plenty of fireworks that remain for public consumption.
When Pao filed her suit in 2012, I noted this about the sad history of women in the workplace a column for Bloomberg View:
Twelve of Kleiner’s 49 partners are women, and in the venture-capital business, that’s considered very, very good. How is it that 20 years after Anita Hill broke the silence about gender discrimination and harassment at work, there are still companies that can take a bow for being gender-equality heroes when 75 percent of their leaders are men?