working women

How Many Shades of Grey in the Kleiner Perkins’ Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?

Employee lawsuits are not something you see every day.  A sexual harassment lawsuit is even rarer.  And I’ve almost never heard of a sexual harassment lawsuit in the venture capital industry (not least because so few women work in that industry).

All these reasons alone make the Eileen Pao vs Kleiner Perkins lawsuit quite notable.  But then you read the allegations and realize how much it sounds like a movie script.  I’ll leave those interested in the full story to read it here, but some highlights:

  • Pao is currently the CEO of start-up, Reddit
  • Pao alleges that she “succumbed” to repeated sexual advances by a co-partner
  • She is married to an African American hedge fund manager who was previously openly gay
  • She is suing Kleiner for $16 million and refused to settle via arbitration (which would have kept the sordid details private)

I’d love nothing more than for the women of the VC industry to review their employers en masse.  Unfortunately there are so few women in the industry that its unlikely they’ll risk revealing their identities — unless its about happenings in the distant past.   (Note: Anonymity hasn’t stopped everyone from sharing what its like to be a female VC).

Most Fairygodboss reviews have been left by women with balanced views and positive opinions about their employers.  However, its important to recognize that there are some women who’ve had terrible experiences at their companies.  For that reason, Fairygodboss’ database includes a list of every company that has been sued in the past decade under the Equal Pay Act (which mandates that men and women be paid equally, for equal work).  While an employee lawsuit over pay is a far cry from a guilty verdict for the company in question (and may not be representative of a company’s overall treatment of women), we decided to provide this information for our community.  At the end of the day, we believe transparency is the best policy and everyone should have as much information as possible.


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