Jury clears Kleiner firm in Silicon Valley gender bias case

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(Reuters) – A California jury Friday cleared venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers of gender discrimination claims brought against it by a former in a trial that transfixed Silicon Valley.

After further deliberation, the jury also cleared Kleiner a claim that the firm had retaliated against former Ellen Pao by terminating her after she sued in 2012.

The verdict dashed Pao’s hopes for personal vindication, but the trial’s embarrassing disclosures about how Pao and other women were treated at Kleiner have cast a long shadow over Silicon Valley corporate culture and its lack of diversity.

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The California Superior case laid bare the matters of the firm that backed Google Inc and .com Inc, with Pao’s attorneys painting Kleiner as a quarrelsome pressure cooker where a former male used business trips as opportunities to make advances to female colleagues.

Pao, now interim executive at -news service Reddit, claimed her standing at Kleiner crumbled after she ended a brief affair with partner Ajit Nazre. Her career deteriorated after he and Kleiner started retaliating against her, amid a climate that overall unfriendly toward women, her lawyers argued.

The firm disputed those charges, presenting evidence that Kleiner went out of its way to hire women.

Pao sought to illustrate her point with testimony from former Kleiner partner, Trae Vassallo, said Nazre appeared at her hotel room a business trip. He wore a bathrobe and carried a glass of wine, according to testimony.

Kleiner countered that it investigated Nazre after Vassallo complained, after which he quickly left the firm.