A month after Kleiner Perkins partner Ellen Pao filed a lawsuit for gender discrimination and retaliation related to sexual harassment claims, the big-time venture capital firm is responding. KPCB is denying “each and every material allegation” of Pao’s allegations including that Pao raised any concerns over sexual harassment and discrimination anytime before late 2011, when she came out fighting with a legal team.
In May, a shocker came out of big-time venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. Partner Ellen Pao accused the firm of gender discrimination and sexual harassment and filed a lawsuit for damages. In her suit, Pao alleged that in 2006, fellow partner Ajit Nazre pressured Pao to have sex with him on a trip to Germany. She also said KPCB partner Randy Komisar gave her a sexually graphic book (“Book of Longing” by Leonard Cohen) and invited her to dinner while his wife was away. Pao also contended that she was denied performance reviews and received negative feedback from individuals with whom she had not worked with extensively.
Several days after the news broke, Komisar responded to the allegations, calling them false, but this is the first fully detailed response from the defendants.
The six page rebuttal filed in court by Kleiner Perkins’ law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe addresses each of Pao’s accusations with detailed denials. It says Pao was not pressured to be in a relationship with or marry the KPCB partner she is accusing of harassment, Ajit Nazre. Instead, it says Pao told her superior Raymond Lane when the relationship was over, that he and the other partners supported her, and she “thanked Lane for his help and understanding.”
As for the book from Komisar, the filing says it was actually purchased for Pao by Komisar’s wife. It also points to the book’s rave reviews, and claims Pao didn’t return or object to the gift in the years after receiving it.
KPCB says there was no retaliation via performance reviews, and that the 2009 negative feedback (such as speak up more effectively, present more investment ideas) was “hardly retaliatory input.” Overall, the reviews hammered on Pao not being a team player and needing to speak up and be more proactive.