Trials & Litigation

Venture capital firm can't require attorney to arbitrate claim in high-profile discrimination case

A venture capital firm has lost its bid to require a former partner to submit to binding arbitration in a high-profile Silicon Valley sex-discrimination claim.

The California Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to consider an appeal by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers of lower court rulings that employment agreements do not require ex-partner Ellen Pao to arbitrate her San Francisco Superior Court suit. Hence, Kleiner Perkins has decided to defend the case in state court rather than appeal the arbitration ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

The storied venture capital firm denies allegations by Pao, a former Cravath Swaine & Moore associate with sterling credentials, that she suffered a hostile work environment and a spokeswoman called her case “wholly without merit,” the newspaper recounts.

Her attorney, Alan Exelrod of San Francisco, says he plans to add a wrongful termination count to the complaint.

See also: “Lawyer Suing for Sex Discrimination Says She Was Fired; Firm Calls It ‘Facilitating Her Transition’”

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