Kleiner Partner Sues Firm Alleging Sexual Harassment
Ellen Pao, an investment partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers has filed a law suit against the Menlo Park venture capital firm.
In the complaint filed May 10 in San Francisco Superior Court, against her employer, Pao alleges she was the victim of sexual harassment by Ajit Nazre, a former Kleiner Perkins investment partner who left the firm last year.
Pao alleges the former partner Nazre, made “inappropriate sexual approaches” during a trip to Germany in 2006. She “rebuffed his advances.” As a result, he was “brusque” and distant”.
Nazre allegedly continued to press her on a sexual relationship, and falsely told her that his wife had left him, according to the suit. He allegedly continued to pursue a sexual relationship and she eventually succumbed to him. However, after she stopped the relationship, he “engaged in retaliation,” says the suit.
Pao alleges her reaction to her ending the relationship resulted in her being passed over for promotions.
Randy Komisar, a Senior Partner with the firm, told Pao that “the personalities of women do not lead to success at KPCB, because women are quiet,” according to the suit.
The suit also alleges the discriminatory treatment of Pao, along with other female employees at the firm, specifically in advancement and compensation, because of their gender. Pao alleges continuing retaliation after she complained about sexual harassment to the highest level of management of KPCB.
The suit alleges KPCB violated its obligation to take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and retaliation from occurring.
Ellen Pao, a partner at the firm joined KPCB in 2005 and worked closely with KPCB China as a founding member of its investment committee. She also serves on the board of directors of Lehigh Technologies, Datameer and Flipboard, Inc.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB), is a venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, in the Silicon Valley. The VC firm is one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent and has backed ventures that include among others, Zynga, Groupon, Fisker and Verisign.