Ellen Pao faces $1m legal bill in sexism case
Ellen Pao, the woman who took a Silicon Valley firm to court over sexism claims and lost, has been asked to pay legal costs of nearly $1m (£660,000). Venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins has said it will waive these costs if former employee Ms Pao does not appeal against the jury’s decision. Ms Pao’s legal team is currently considering the proposal. The high-profile case prompted a wider examination of gender bias in Silicon Valley.
Ms Pao was sacked from Kleiner Perkins – which has invested in a variety of successful technology firms, including Snapchat, Spotify, Uber, Twitter and Google – in 2012. She now faces a legal bill of around $973,000 after she failed to convince jurors at the San Francisco Superior Court that her firing was due to discrimination. Lawyers representing Kleiner Perkins insisted that its decision to sack her was based on poor performance. By contrast, her lawyers spoke about a “boys’ club” atmosphere at the firm and the promotion of male colleagues. In March, a jury of six men and six women rejected Ms Pao’s claim of discrimination.Legal filings made this week from Kleiner Perkins revealed that the firm had offered to settle with Ms Pao for $964,502 last November but said she had never responded.
In the month-long trial that followed, she sought $16m in lost wages and potential earnings, but has always insisted that bringing the case was about more than just money. After the trial, she tweeted: “Hopefully my case will inspire the venture capital industry to level the playing field for everyone including women and minorities.” While there are some very high-profile senior women in technology – such as Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook and Marissa Mayer at Yahoo – women are generally very under-represented in the industry. Women make up about 30% of the global workforces of both Apple and Google, with the numbers even smaller in technical roles.