In a case that has kept most of Silicon Valley on the edge of its collective seat for the past month, the jury in the Ellen Pao case has begun deliberations, The Washington Post reported. To recap: Pao is suing venture capital giant Kleiner Perkins for $16 million because she claims she faced gender discrimination and then retaliation for complaining about the unfair treatment she says she received. And, if the jury decides Kleiner Perkins acted with malice, Pao might be entitled to seek punitive damages of more than $100 million. So far, the case has focused on whether or not the firm did not promote Pao or give her other opportunities because she's a woman, or because she lacked the skills necessary to succeed in Kleiner Perkins' corporate environment.
Pao’s lawsuit, which was filed back in 2012, alleged several instances of discriminatory behavior by men in management at Kleiner Perkins. According to the suit, women weren’t invited to a company event because they “kill the buzz,” one partner said. Another partner gave Pao a copy of The Book of Longing, an erotic poetry book, and that same partner told Pao women couldn’t succeed at Kleiner Perkins because they were “quiet,” the lawsuit states. Pao also claimed that a partner with whom she had an affair retaliated against her after she ended the relationship.
In her closing argument, Kleiner Perkins attorney Lynne Hermle said Pao, who is now interim CEO of Reddit, was just looking for a big payday, according to USA Today, and that Pao didn't accept responsibility for her shortcomings.
Like so many other misplaced accusation you've heard in this trial, these claims are simply a continuation of Ellen Pao's attempts to blame others for her own failings.
But Pao's attorney Alan Exelrod said the venture capital firm, which has funded companies like Google, Amazon, and Uber, had simply broken the law, USA Today reported, and Pao was paying the price.
The law is meant to protect people who stand up. In Kleiner Perkins culture, when you stand up, you get slammed down.
The jury now has to decide two things. First, it must decide if Pao was in fact discriminated against, and how much she might be entitled to in lost income. Then, if it does find discrimination occurred, the jury has to decide if Kleiner Perkins acted with malice, and whether Pao should be awarded punitive damages
During her testimony, Pao talked about why she brought the case against Kleiner Perkins, knowing she was likely to hear her character shredded by former co-workers. "There should be equal opportunity for women and men to be venture capitalists," Pao testified, according to USA Today. "And, I wanted to make sure my story was told."
Deliberations will continue Friday.
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