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Ellen Pao loses in Silicon Valley’s big gender discrimination case

A historic case remains in a gray area right until the end.


Taylor Hatmaker


Posted on Mar 27, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 5:12 am CDT

Update 8:19pm CT, Mar. 27: Reddit’s interim CEO Ellen Pao on Friday lost her gender discrimination case against Silicon Valley venture capitalist firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Pao took to Twitter to comment.

Late Friday afternoon, the jury fumbled the vote count in one of the case’s key allegations—that Kleiner terminated Ellen Pao’s employment in retaliation for the lawsuit she had filed. With reporters for sites like BuzzFeed and Re/code issuing live updates from the courthouse, the jury returned an 8-4 verdict in what looked like a final blow to Pao’s case. 

Pao’s lawsuit brought four distinct claims against her former employer. The jury ruled in favor of Kleiner.   

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After Friday afternoon’s flurry of confusion, the court clarified that the jury must reach a final verdict of 9-3 and the jury resumed deliberations. The suit, filed in San Francisco’s Superior Court in 2012, went to trial in late February. 

Pao’s lawsuit is widely regarded as a historic moment for the tech community. Even beyond the bounds of tech, the case’s high-profile issues are imperative for employers to examine corporate culture for overt instances of sexism and symptoms of structural, unconscious gender bias within their own corporate cultures.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to provide additional clarity and context. 

Photo via csread/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) 

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*First Published: Mar 27, 2015, 8:35 pm CDT