Legendary venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins is being sued by one of its partners, Ellen Pao, for discrimination and retaliation.One of the biggest bombshell allegations in the lawsuit is that Ray Lane, one of the top partners at Kleiner, told Pao to marry the man who was tormenting her at her job when she complained to him about what was happening.
We initially missed this detail, and Connie Loizos at PE Hub picked up on it.
We’ve gone back and read the full story. Here it is, according to the lawsuit. Keep in mind, this is one side of the story, and Kleiner has said “the firm believes the lawsuit is without merit and intends to vigorously defend the matter.”
Ellen Pao, then a junior partner at Kleiner, went on a trip to Germany in February 2006 with Ajit Nazre, who was also a junior partner. During the trip, the lawsuit alleges that Nazre “made inappropriate sexual approaches” towards Pao. She turned him down. He responded by acting “brusque and distant.”
From March of 2006 to October of 2006, Nazre continued to press for a sexual relationship, and “falsely told her that his wife had left him,” says the suit. Pao rejected him, and he retaliated by engaging in “offensive, obstructionist and difficult behaviour,” according to the suit.
Eventually, Pao relented and did have sexual relations “two or three times,” but then she cut it off.
When she cut off the relationship, Nazre “started a consistent pattern of retaliation against her,” alleges Pao’s lawsuit.
For the next five years Nazre allegedly retaliated by cutting Pao out of meetings, removing her from business email discussions, failing to share information Pao needed for her job, and preventing her from interviewing potential new employees.
Photo: Bloomberg West
In June of 2007, Pao told two of Kleiner’s senior partners, Ted Schein and Ray Lane about Nazre’s sexual harassment and retaliatory behaviour, says the suit.After being ignored, Lane eventually met with Pao to talk about her allegations.
According to the suit, Lane “acknowledged that Mr. Nazre’s behaviour was inappropriate,” but pressured her to drop it because Lane was close to Nazre and his mentor at the firm.
It gets worse.
In the most mind-boggling charge of the suit, it says, “Though [Pao] had formally complained about Mr. Nazre’s behaviour, Mr. Lane encouraged [Pao] to engage in a personal relationship with Mr. Nazre and even to marry him.” (Our emphasis added.)
Lane also said if they were to get married one of them would have to leave the firm since it’s against the rules for Kleiner people to be married to each other, says the suit.
After this meeting, the suit says Lane’s idea for a remedy was for Nazre and Pao to meet for dinner outside of the office. At this dinner, Pao says Nazre “made inappropriate comments and engaged in unprofessional behaviour, and seemed to be empowered by KPCB to further retaliate against her.”
The suit carries on, detailing more and more behaviour by Kleiner’s partners.
If the allegation that Lane suggested she marry Nazre is true in any way, it is absolutely appalling.