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Updated 4:30 PST with new jury verdict
A jury in San Francisco today found the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers not liable in all claims of sex discrimination against former employee Ellen Pao.
The final verdict came after a two-hour delay caused when the jury failed to get the nine votes it needed for a consensus in the fourth and final claim of retaliation. The jury found earlier today that Kleiner did not discriminate against Pao.
For the jury to issue a verdict against Kleiner, Pao and her attorneys had to show a preponderance (more than half) of supporting evidence that the firm denied her promotion because of her gender.
Two attorneys told VentureBeat it was one of the most engaged juries they’d seen. The jurors asked for easels during their deliberations so that they could map out the details and timing of the case. The jurors submitted numerous questions to the judge while the trial was going on.
#EllenPao surrounded by reporters after losing gender discrimination case pic.twitter.com/vy9GHJxFgC
— Malaika Fraley (@malaikafraley) March 27, 2015
Before the verdict, both sides seemed to agree on the major events of the case — Pao’s various roles in the firm, her reviews, her eventual discrimination suit in 2012. What they disagreed on were the motivations behind those events.
Pao had worked for Kleiner for seven years before she was fired in 2012. She filed a discrimination complaint against the firm in 2011, claiming that she was being held back from advancement in the firm at least in part because of her gender.
The Pao side’s lead attorney, Alan Exelrod, said during closing arguments that Pao brought in more money from investments than her male counterparts, yet was passed over for promotions. Exelrod said Pao was further discriminated against after filing the claim, and then eventually was fired.
Kleiner Perkins’ lead attorney Lynne Hermle painted a very different picture.
Where Pao’s version of events says that she filed her discrimination claim because she’d been discriminated against based on her gender, Kleiner’s side says that it had already become clear to Pao that she wouldn’t be promoted to partner by 2011, and that’s why she filed the complaint.
The Pao trial has lasted for 24 days. The jury deliberated for just over two days to come to the partial verdict it announced today.
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