Woman in gender bias suit faces third day of questioning
Mar. 11, 2015
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A woman alleging gender bias against a prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm testified Wednesday that a partner at the company told her she shouldn't work with a male colleague with whom she had an affair, but she decided against the advice.
Plaintiff Ellen Pao previously accused the colleague of retaliating against her after she broke off the affair, and she has claimed the company showed bias by not doing anything to stop his actions.
Her testimony seemed to undercut that claim.
Pao took the witness stand for a third day in her lawsuit alleging she was denied a promotion at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers because of gender bias and then fired after she complained.
Her lawsuit has spotlighted gender imbalance at elite Silicon Valley investment companies that are competing aggressively to back the next Google or Amazon.
Women are grossly underrepresented in the venture capital and technology sectors.
Lynne Hermle, an attorney for Kleiner Perkins, also showed jurors an email on Wednesday in which Pao thanked the colleague for a lunch after she reported he was retaliating against her.
"We made a lot of progress," the email said.
Pao, 45, has testified that she began the affair after the colleague said his wife had left him. She said she broke it off several months later when she learned that was a lie.
The colleague retaliated by shutting her out of emails and meetings, Pao said.
She says her lawsuit was aimed in part at creating equal opportunities for women in the venture capital sector.
"I've tried many times to bring Kleiner Perkins to the right path," she told jurors. "I think there should be equal opportunities for women and men to be venture capitalists."
Kleiner Perkins has denied wrongdoing and says Pao didn't get along with her colleagues and performed poorly as a junior partner.