Interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao will be allowed to seek punitive damages in her gender discrimination suit against her former employer, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
On Saturday morning Judge Harold Kahn denied Kleiner Perkins’ motion to rule out punitive damages for Pao, who is seeking $US16 million in lost wages.
In his ruling sent out by the court, the judge wrote: “There is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable juror could conclude that Kleiner Perkins engaged in intentional gender discrimination by failing to promote Ms. Pao and terminating her employment and that Kleiner Perkins attempted to hide its illegal conduct by offering knowingly false and pretextual explanations for its decisions not to promote Ms. Pao and to terminate her employment.” The judge also said there is sufficient evidence that the jury could conclude Kleiner Perkins retaliated against Pao.
Pao’s attorneys argued on Friday that Pao deserved the extra damages because she was discriminated against, asserted her human rights in bringing the case, and Kleiner investigated her as a result, while providing no human resources support.
Kleiner’s attorneys argued that does not meet the legal requirement of “despicable treatment” because Pao was not promoted for documented reasons, nor treated unkindly in her departure from he firm.
This ruling comes after a week filled with high-profile witnesses taking the stand, including so-called “Queen of the Internet” Mary Meeker. Meeker testified against Pao, telling the court that Kleiner Perkins is “the best place to be a woman in the business.”