Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr took the stand in Ellen Pao’s discrimination suit against the firm on Tuesday, where he discussed Kleiner’s handling of a workplace affair between Pao and another partner, Ajit Nazre.
Doerr, who was a mentor to Pao while she served as an associate partner and his chief of staff, said she told him about the affair with Nazre in June 2007.
In notes from that conversation, Pao allegedly called Nazre “weird,” though she ultimately hoped that both she and Nazre could continue working at Kleiner.
Ray Lane, Nazre’s mentor at Kleiner, was adamant that it would be difficult for the two of them to continue working there.
Nazre was married during his affair with Pao, and Doerr said she wanted him to leave his wife.
“[Nazre] told me he had engaged in a consensual affair with Ellen,” said Doerr. “That he loved her, that it was over, that they were beyond it. That she wanted him to leave his kids. He couldn’t do that.”
Doerr testified that he initially wanted to fire Nazre because of the affair, but relented when Lane wanted him to stay on at Kleiner. Pao also told Doerr she wanted Nazre to stay at Kleiner and that “all of this was in the past.”
In lieu of his termination, Kleiner docked Nazre’s bonus.
“He did not earn his full bonus,” said Doerr. “The biggest punishment was that I told him I had lost confidence in his ability to be a leader at the firm.”
Despite Doerr’s wanting Nazre to be fired, he didn’t think there needed to be a record of Pao’s complaint in his personnel file. He called the affair “a serious lapse of judgement.”
The year after Pao’s complaint, Nazre came up for promotion to a senior partner role. Senior partners make significantly more than their junior counterparts. Nazre was promoted that year.
Doerr said he didn’t remember how he voted on Nazre’s promotion, but agreed with Pao attorney Alan Exelrod that Ray Lane was a “strong supporter” of Nazre becoming a senior partner, despite his affair.
Nazre was eventually fired from Kleiner Perkins after the firm investigated a claim of sexual harassment against Trae Vassallo, another former partner.
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