Mon, Mar 23, 2015 - Page 7 News List

Punitive damages backed in bias case

AP, SAN FRANCISCO

A California trial judge on Saturday ruled that a woman suing a Silicon Valley venture capital firm in a high-profile gender bias case may seek punitive damages that could add tens of millions of dollars to the US$16 million in lost wages and bonuses she is pursuing.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn denied a request by lawyers for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to have Ellen Pao’s demand for unspecified punitive damages thrown out.

Pao, the interim chief executive of the news and social networking site Reddit, claims she was passed over for a promotion at the firm because she is a woman and then fired in 2012 after she complained.

Kahn said there was enough evidence for the jury considering Pao’s lawsuit to conclude that Kleiner Perkins acted with malice, oppression or fraud, which in California is the legal threshold for awarding damages that are designed to punish and deter particularly bad behavior.

Kleiner Perkins has denied wrongdoing and says Pao did not get along with her colleagues and performed poorly.

Jurors are expected to hear closing arguments tomorrow.

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