More than three years after former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Ellen Pao filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the storied Sand Hill Road firm, the case is coming to an end.
Pao, who was handed a sweeping defeat following a four-week long trial in late March, has decided not to appeal, she said in a statement released earlier this morning to Recode.
Wrote Pao: “I feel gratified that my actions have encouraged others to speak up about discrimination in venture capital and technology more broadly. I am encouraged that companies are taking more action to quantify and address the disparity of opportunities for women and minorities.
“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.”
Kleiner quickly issued a press release of its own, telling reporters: “We are 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’s case captivated Silicon Valley, both in the years that led to the trial, and throughout weeks of testimony that saw renowned investors John Doerr and Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins take the stand, among many other witnesses — almost all of them for the defense. (Pao wrote today that: “Kleiner’s clout in Silicon Valley made it difficult to get experts and other people to testify openly on the stand” on her behalf.)
Pao, who had joined Kleiner Perkins in 2005 as a chief of staff to Doerr and was later made a junior investing partner, sued the firm in May 2012 after being fired. Pao had argued that if not for gender discrimination at the firm, she might have been promoted to a senior partner position. She said her termination was the direct result of complaints she made about the company’s culture.
In April, after its court win, Kleiner asked that Pao repay $972,814 in costs for expert fees, depositions, transcription and travel for expert witnesses that it generated during the trial, as was its legal right. Judge Harold Kahn — who’d presided over the trial — noted that under the Fair Employment and Housing Act, courts must consider the economic resources of both parties, and he accordingly adjusted Pao’s bill to $275,966.
Pao, who was appointed the interim CEO of the community site Reddit in November of last year, stepped down from that post in July following a backlash against the site over the termination of an employee. Details emerged shortly afterward that suggest Pao had little or nothing to do with that decision.