Ellen Pao Will Not Appeal Gender Discrimination Lawsuit Against Kleiner-Perkins

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In a post written for Re/code today, Ellen Pao announced that she would not be pursuing an appeal for her gender discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins. She does this despite motioning towards seeking an appeal in June after she had lost in court in March. Citing the extreme financial cost of pursuing an appeal, she has decided to move on from the past and continue fighting gender discrimination where it lies.

It’s important to note that Pao still technically owes $270,000 in legal fees to Kleiner Perkins. She was offered an opportunity to settle, but at the cost of not being able to speak about the case. According to her statement:

Settlement might have provided me with financial benefits, but only at the great cost of silence. To quote their lawyer, ‘KP is not interested in a settlement without a non disparagement provision,’ meaning I would not be free to speak the truth about my experiences. I refuse to be silent on these important issues.

Kleiner Perkins offered to waive the fees if she would drop the appeal.

Pao’s case against Kleiner Perkins made waves in that it was a major, high-profile case of gender discrimination against a prolific VC firm. For the longest time, the case was the talk of Silicon Valley, and kicked up an incredible amount of conversations around the intersection of gender and tech.

Through Pao’s willingness to stand on the public stage and share her experiences and stories, she helped empower others to stand up and tell their own stories of discrimination in their workplaces. The tech industry has long had a problem with women in the workplace, and to be honest, it still kind of does. Pao’s own tenure at Reddit was marred by protests and petitions asking for her resignation. She ultimately stepped down after controversy surrounding management of the website’s communities arose.

If the case can be considered a battle, then the fight for true equality in the tech industry workplace may be considered the war. And that’s something that still rages on to this day. But the more and more we empower each other to talk about these things, the more and more we’ll be able to push for change and reach for something better.

You can read Pao’s full statement below.

I have decided to end my lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins.

I feel gratified that my actions have encouraged others to speak up about discrimination in venture capital and technology more broadly. I am encouraged that companies are taking more action to quantify and address the disparity of opportunities for women and minorities.

To resolve the lawsuit, I will pay Kleiner Perkins for its legal costs as awarded by the court, although I firmly believe people who bring employment discrimination claims in good faith should not be forced to pay their employer’s legal bills. I will also drop my appeal, since I cannot afford the risk of even more costs to fight against a firm with tremendous financial resources and massive legal and PR armies.

To be clear, Kleiner and I have not reached any agreement to settle this matter. Settlement might have provided me with financial benefits, but only at the great cost of silence. To quote their lawyer, “KP is not interested in a settlement without a non disparagement provision,” meaning I would not be free to speak the truth about my experiences. I refuse to be silent on these important issues.

This battle has been painful for me personally and professionally, and also for my family. It is time to move on. I look forward to continuing the conversation about workplace equality and to building great companies in the technology industry.

(via The Verge, image via Flickr/cmichel67)

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Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.