Trials & Litigation

Lawyer Suing for Sex Discrimination Says She Was Fired; Firm Calls It 'Facilitating Her Transition'

New salvos have been shot in a much-watched legal battle between a highly credentialed female lawyer and the Silicon Valley venture capital firm for which she has been working as a junior partner while simultaneously pursuing a sex discrimination suit.

Ellen Pao, a highly credentialed former BigLaw attorney, says, through her lawyer, that she has just been fired by Kleiner Perkins and plans to pursue a wrongful termination claim, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

But the firm puts a different spin on the situation in a written statement provided to the newspaper:

“Because of long-standing issues having no relationship or bearing on the litigation, Kleiner approached Ms. Pao to facilitate her transition, over an extended period of time, out of the firm,” the firm writes. “The proposed terms, that did not require Ms. Pao to waive any legal rights or claims, are generous, fair and intended to support Ms. Pao in a successful career transition.”

Attorney Alan Exelrod, who represents Pao, says she was told on Monday to clean out her office and leave the firm and given 30 days to transition out of her board memberships. He says Pao will file a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, as a first step to pursuing a wrongful termination claim.

Although Pao is still listed on the Kleiner Perkins website and apparently has a working email there, Exelrod says she didn’t want to misrepresent her situation there.

“Ellen wants to look for work and do it in a way that’s forthright and direct,” he told the newspaper.

Additional and related coverage:: “Still in ‘Caveman Era’? Ex-BigLaw Associate with Star Credentials Sues Venture Capital Firm” “Judge Denies Venture Capital Firm’s Arbitration Bid in Lawyer’s Discrimination Case” “2nd Venture Capital Firm Faces Suit re Claimed Discrimination Against Female Partner”

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