Employment Discrimination, Venture Capital And The Jury

Today’s New York Times reports, “Venture Capitalists Under Spotlight in Bias Suit.”  The article describes a sex discrimination claim by Ellen Pao against her former employer, the preeminent venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

Apart from the generic evidence involving a male dominated business, which has no female senior partners, allegations of female junior partners being asked to perform secretarial tasks, and an amorous male partner knocking on Ms. Pao’s hotel room door wearing a bath robe and carrying a bottle wine, the most interesting part of the story concerns the jury.

The article reports that in this particular trial the judge permits the jury to question the witnesses directly.  According to the New York Times, a juror asked John Doerr, the “most famous and successful venture capitalist in the word” the following question: “Were women simply not interested in becoming venture capitalists, ‘or did the venture capital world fight them off’?”

As a trial attorney, I am impressed with the intellect and articulateness reflected in this juror’s question.  I believe it encapsulates the issue in this case specifically, and in the world of gender discrimination more broadly, better than I have heard any lawyer articulate. As a student of the jury system, I would not expect the trial to end well for Mr. Doerr or his Kleiner Perkins firm.

If you or loved ones have been discriminated against on the basis of gender, race, national origin, age, disability or sexual orientation, you should promptly contact an attorney with experience in the field of employment law.  The Law Office of Todd J. Krouner has a proven track record of helping our clients with their discrimination claims.  To determine if you have a strong case, please contact us for a free consultation at (914) 238-5800.