Ellen Pao took an important step in her sex descrimination suit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Saturday morning.

Judge Harold Kahn denied a motion by the defendant Kleiner Perkins to rule out the possibility of punitive damages against the firm.

The judge decided that sufficient evidence of gender discrimination exists to leave open the possibility of Pao receiving punitive damages, among other awards.

From Kahn’s decision:

“There is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that Kleiner Perkins engaged in intentional gender discrimination by failing to promote Ms. Pao and terminating her employment and that Kleiner Perkins attempted to hide its illegal conduct by offering knowingly false and pretextual explanations for its decisions not to promote Ms. Pao and to terminate her employment.”

Pao is suing KPCB for $16 million in lost wages.

Source: Wall Street Journal