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California Supreme Court Denies Arbitration in Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Suit

Thursday, September, 26, 2013


Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a California-based venture firm, will be forced to litigate a dispute despite its bid for arbitration, according to the California Supreme Court’s decision to refuse to hear the case.  The case involves a sexual harassment and discrimination claim filed by a former partner, Ellen Pao.  Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, however, have stated that even without the hope of arbitration, they expect to win if the case is heard in court due to the lack of merit in Ms. Pao’s allegations.


Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers issued a legal response this past June, stating that it refuted “each and every material allegation of the Complaint and further denies that [Ellen Pao] has been damaged in the manner alleged, or in any manner or amount.” The statement also said that “KPCB vigorously denies that it discriminated against Plaintiff, retaliated against Plaintiff after she complained about harassment or discrimination, or that it violated its obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination from occurring.”


The arbitration bid was first heard by a lower California court, which ruled that it had to be litigated.  Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers then appealed that decision to the California Supreme Court, which then declined consideration of the case, thereby enforcing the decision of the lower court.


Ms. Pao released a statement to VentureWire, stating that she was pleased with the decision because she wanted the case to be heard by a judge and jury.  She also stated that the harassment and discrimination allegations have been events that occurred over the seven years she worked for the firm