Ellen Pao Appeals Gender Discrimination Verdict, But What Are Her Chances Of Winning?
The deadline to appeal wasn't until June 8, but on Monday Ellen Pao appealed the gender discrimination verdict in her case against former employer and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, The Wall Street Journal reported. Pao, who is now interim CEO of Reddit, unsuccessfully sued Kleiner Perkins for $16 million, claiming she faced gender discrimination, then retaliation for complaining about the unfair treatment she said she received. The appeal is a big gamble for Pao, especially considering Kleiner Perkins offered to waive its claim for reimbursement costs that totaled nearly $1 million, Bloomberg Business reported.
According to the Journal, Monday's filing didn't specify on what grounds Pao planned to appeal. But her chances of a successful appeal are pretty slim, both because of where the case was heard along with some of the specifics of the case, according to an analysis by Reuters. In the past two years, only five of 31 similar gender discrimination cases (where the employers won a trial court victory) were reversed in the California First District Court of Appeals, where Pao's appeal would be heard, Reuters reported. A 2009 analysis by The Wall Street Journal found that similar discrimination cases, particularly those heard in federal court, have poor chances for success. Judges are more likely to dismiss such cases without any testimony being presented, according to the Journal found.
One major decision that went against Pao during the trial, which could have been the basis for a possible appeal, was when Judge Harold Kahn ruled her attorneys would not be allowed to compare her performance reviews with those of other women at Kleiner Perkins. Another key point that could be grounds for appeal was a ruling that actually went in Pao's favor during the trial, according to Reuters. Kleiner Perkins was not allowed to show evidence of Pao's husband's financial problems.
For its part, Kleiner Perkins appears confident in its victory. Spokeswoman Christina Lee said in a statement to the Journal the firm remains "committed to gender diversity in the workplace and believe that women in technology would be best served by focusing on this issue outside of continued litigation."
Pao's attorneys now have 40 days to file a brief detailing on what grounds the appeal will be based. Even if Pao loses her first appeal, she isn't without recourse. Her next step would then be an appeal to the California Supreme Court, but it's worth noting the higher court doesn't hear most of the cases it reviews.
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