A woman who filed and lost a high-profile discrimination lawsuit against a Silicon Valley venture capital firm had a unique reaction: demanding the firm pay her $2.7 million to decline pursuing an appeal of the case, according to the firm, which filed court documents against her on Friday, NBC News reports.
Ellen Pao, who worked for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers as a junior partner but then filed suit when she did not receive a promotion, alleged that the firm passed her over because she was a woman. Kleiner Perkins attorney Lynne Hermle responded in court by labeling Pao as someone solely motivated by money, charging that Pao failed as an investor and only sued to reap financial reward.
Pao, currently the interim CEO of the Internet discussion forum Reddit, had filed a notice that she would appeal the March verdict, which found that the firm had not been passed over because she was a woman, and her subsequent firing was not retaliation for her lawsuit against the firm. Kleiner then asked for costs to be reimbursed totaling slightly under $1 million, but offered to waive the costs if Pao eschewed an appeal.
Pao’s attorneys told the court that Kleiner’s request was “grossly excessive and unreasonable,” and cited a California Supreme Court Ruling that would stop Kleiner from collecting reimbursement unless Pao could be proved to have acted with malicious intent.
After Pao demanded the $2.7 million, Kleiner Perkins spokeswoman Christina Lee bluntly said, ““Pao is obligated, as a matter of law, to repay a portion of our legal costs. We have offered to waive these costs as a good faith attempt to bring this matter to a close. In response, Pao demanded an additional $2.7 million payment … in return for not appealing, despite the jury’s unequivocal verdict in our favor on all counts. We have no intention of accepting this unreasonable demand,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Heather Wilson, a spokeswoman for Pao, would not comment on the firm’s court filing or Lee’s statement.