Kleiner Perkins Files Legal Response To Gender Discrimination Suit, Denies “Each And Every Material Allegation”

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Kleiner Perkins today filed its official legal response to the gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit that one of its partners, Ellen Pao, filed against the storied Silicon Valley venture capital firm last month.

Today was the last day that Kleiner could have filed its legal response to the claim, so the timing is not exactly a surprise.

The filing makes the firm’s position clear in its first paragraph, which reads:

“KPCB generally denies each and every material allegation of the Complaint and further denies that [Ellen Pao] has been damaged in the manner alleged, or in any manner or amount. KPCB vigorously denies that it discriminated against Plaintiff, retaliated against Plaintiff after she complained about harassment or discrimination, or that it violated its obligation to take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination from occurring.”

The filling goes on with detailed rebuttals to each of Pao’s claims. Here are some of the key points made in Kleiner’s response:

    • KPCB denies that Ellen Pao ever complained to the firm about the alleged sexual harassment she claims to have been subjected to while working there. The first time the firm became aware of her complaints, it says, was in late 2011/early 2012.
    • Once Pao did come forward with her complaints, Kleiner says it engaged an outside investigator who found the claims to be without merit.
    • As for Pao’s assertion that longtime Kleiner partner Ray Lane pressured her to drop the suit and marry her alleged harasser, Kleiner Perkins categorically denies all of those claims. The document also says that Pao “thanked Lane for his help and understanding” and that all they’d heard of the incident until recently was Pao’s “expression of gratitude and desire to move on.”
    • Kleiner also categorically denies Pao’s assertion that she was also the victim of harassment by partner Randy Komisar, who allegedly gave her a book of poetry and asked her out for dinner. In this case, KPCB says that the book was actually a gift to Pao from Komisar’s wife, and that Pao “has twisted facts and events in an attempt to create legal claims where none exist.”
    • The filing also details negative feedback Pao has received during her employment at Kleiner Perkins. Those performance criticisms, Kleiner says, were the only reason that she was ever passed over for promotion — not her gender, nor her sexual harassment claims. “Any failure by Plaintiff to advance was caused by her own performance failings, and any emotional distress suffered by Plaintiff likely occurred as the result of turmoil in her personal life,” the response says.
    • Kleiner Perkins also addresses Pao’s claims that gender discrimination at the firm is widespread. The firm denies Pao’s claims that it excluded women from dinners, “or that any KPCB event was marred or motivated by gender animus or discrimination.”
    • Kleiner also says that the fact that Pao has filed a suit in court at all is a breach of her employment contract, which included non-disparagement and arbitration agreements. “Plaintiff has sued in the incorrect forum and her claims, which she has contractually agreed to submit to arbitration, must be asserted in an arbitration forum, contractual agreements which she has now breached.”

    Kleiner is asking the court to dismiss Pao’s complaint with prejudice, that judgement be entered in favor of Kleiner on all claims, that Kleiner be awarded its attorney fees and other costs pertaining to the suit, and any other relief the court deems proper.

    Here is the scanned document:

    Here are other TechCrunch posts regarding the suit: