| SAN FRANCISCO, July 20
SAN FRANCISCO, July 20 A California judge on
F riday told venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield &
Byers LLC he disagreed with its attempt to move an employment
discrimination case brought by one of its partners to
arbitration, for now keeping one of Silicon Valley's
higher-profile cases in the public eye.
While San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn did not
issue a formal ruling from the bench at a court hearing, he told
Kleiner attorneys they could appeal his decision if they
The suit, brought by Ellen Pao in San Francisco state court,
has become the talk of the Bay Area, where the digerati are
avidly debating its merits - along with broader questions about
sexism in the technology industry.
A Kleiner representative did not immediately comment on the
Pao's lawsuit paints a picture of a firm where complaints
against harassment went ignored, where a senior partner
suggested that marrying the alleged harasser might be the
solution to Pao's difficulties, and where women were labeled
In response, Kleiner characterized Pao as an underperforming
partner who never told the firm she was unhappy with her
treatment by male colleagues.
The firm sought to move the case to arbitration last month,
saying the agreements governing various Kleiner funds mandated
it. The firm argued that Pao was knowledgeable about her
Pao attorney Alan Exelrod has argued that Pao was suing the
Kleiner firm itself - not its funds. Pao never signed any
arbitration agreements with the firm, Exelrod argued.
But Kleiner attorney Lynne Hermle charged in court on Friday
and in a filing on Thursday that Pao was trying to have it both
ways, suing the firm for discrimination even after signing
agreements that seemingly acknowledged the authority of the
funds rather than the firm in key areas.
Kleiner Perkins, founded in 1972, has backed big-name firms
such as online retailer Amazon.com Inc, gaming company
Electronic Arts Inc, biotechnology company Genentech, browser
company Netscape, information-technology company Sun
Microsystems and gaming company Zynga Inc.
The case in Superior Court of the State of California,
County of San Francisco is Ellen Pao v Kleiner Perkins Caufield
& Byers LLC and Does 1-20, case no. 12-520719.