San Francisco Bay Area Discrimination Lawsuit Gains National Attention

A lawsuit filed by Kleiner Partner Ellen Pao is continuing to draw attention to discrimination allegations within technology businesses located in Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley, popular for its innovations in the technology industry, is facing heat as the lawsuit fuels a debate on the presence of sexism throughout the technology industry, according to Reuters.

Kleiner, a venture capital firm, is known for backing big names including Amazon.com and browser company Netscape. The firm not only denies the presence of discrimination within the company but also claims that Ms. Pao is suing in the wrong venue. The company contends that instead of a resolving the issue in the courtroom, the case belongs in arbitration.

The company is supporting this allegation by attempting to enforce an arbitration clause found within Ms. Pao's contract.

Arbitration is a resolution process that allows a company to settle a dispute outside of the courtroom. Instead of using a judge or jury, arbitration uses a third party to hear both sides of the issue and make a decision. Companies often prefer using arbitration to avoid litigation in a courtroom for two primary reasons: it can help them avoid costly settlements and an embarrassing trial.

In July of 2012, a judge disagreed with Kleiner's call for arbitration and declined to allow the employment lawsuit to continue in arbitration. The New York Times reports Kleiner plans to appeal the decision, which would likely put the case on hold for another year.

Details of Discrimination Lawsuit

Ms. Pao's complaints include that her superiors continually ignored her reports of harassment and that the company had a reputation of labeling women as "buzz kills." She also contends that the company withheld a promotion to senior partner based on her complaints of harassment.

In addition to these allegations, Ms. Pao also states the company restricts women in general. Some of her contentions include offering women lower pay and a failure to provide opportunities for advancement routinely offered to their male counterparts.

If these allegations are true, the venture capital firm is likely guilty of gender discrimination. It is illegal to treat people differently based on their gender. In addition to treating all employees equally, employers must also remedy any known situations of sexual harassment. This includes unwanted advances, lewd comments or other actions that may result in an offensive work environment.

If you or a loved one is the victim of sexual discrimination in the workplace, remedies may be available. Contact an experienced sex discrimination attorney to discuss your situation and better protect your legal rights and remedies.