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A jury decided Friday that a prestigious venture capital firm did not discriminate or retaliate against a female employee in a case that debated gender imbalance and working conditions for women in Silicon Valley.
The jury in San Francisco reached the verdict after three days of deliberations in a lawsuit filed by Ellen Pao against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
The lawsuit claimed Pao was fired when she complained about discrimination at the firm. "I have told my story and thousands of people have heard it. If I helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it," Pao said after the verdict.
Pao's attorneys said she was an accomplished junior partner who was passed over for a promotion and fired because the firm used different standards to judge men and women. Kleiner Perkins' attorney, Lynne Hermle, countered that Pao failed as an investor at the company and sued to get a big payout as she was being shown the door.
"The complaints of Ellen Pao were made for only one purpose: a huge payout for team Ellen," Hermle said in her closing argument.
Pao's attorneys said she was excluded from an all-male dinner at the home of Vice President Al Gore; received a book of erotic poetry from a partner; was asked to take notes like a secretary at a meeting; and subjected to talk about pornography aboard a private plane.
Kleiner Perkins officials said Pao was a chronic complainer who twisted facts and circumstances in her lawsuit and had a history of conflicts with colleagues that contributed to the decision to let her go.
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