At Venture Capital Firm, Arguments About Whether A Partner Is Still Employed


Publish Date:
October 4, 2012
  • Perlroth, Nicole
The New York Times
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Professor Alison Morantz spoke with the New York Times Nicole Perlroth about a sexual discrimination case with an outcome that will depend heavily on whether the plantiff was actually fired in retailiation for filing suit or dismissed for poor performance. 

In a sexual discrimination suit involving one of Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms and one of its investment partners, the two sides cannot agree on anything — including whether she has been fired.

Ellen Pao, the junior investment partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers who is suing the firm for discrimination and retaliation, said late Tuesday that the firm had fired her. Kleiner Perkins rejected that claim and said Ms. Pao remained an employee.

Legal experts said the question of whether Ms. Pao was fired would factor prominently into her case. “If she can persuade a judge or jury that she was fired in retaliation for filing a claim, or the underlying sexual harassment claim, then this will help her case,” said Alison D. Morantz, a professor at Stanford Law School. “But if the firm can prove she was dismissed for totally unrelated reasons, such as poor performance, it may not factor in — well, assuming she was discharged.”

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