Sexual harassment suit shakes Silicon Valley

The computer and technology industry has been historically dominated by men. Although these men are not the stereotypical chauvinists that many might imagine they have come under scrutiny as of late. A junior partner in the well-respected venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers recently filed a sexual harassment claim against the California company and her coworkers. The company is known for garnering venture capital for such noted start-up technology enterprises as Google.

The plaintiff claims that she became the victim of retaliation after she blocked the sexual advances of a colleague. Many in the media have used the lawsuit to point out that the world of venture capitalism is plagued with outdated gender roles while sexual discrimination remains a normal practice. The lawsuit alleges that one male executive at the firm told the plaintiff that women will never succeed in the firm because women are quiet. Another male executive is alleged to have said that women were purposely not invited to an important business dinner based upon their gender.

The complaint alleges that the inappropriate sexual advances began almost immediately upon the plaintiff's employment. The plaintiff says she eventually did give into the junior male partner's approaches on several occasions, but that he retaliated against her after she ended the very brief relationship. The plaintiff claims the retaliation continued for approximately five years.

Despite the allegations, the Kleiner firm is known for being more open to hiring women than other similar companies. One-fourth of the firm's 50 partners are women. The allegations of sexual harassment are also shocking because the California firm has worked hard at maintaining its image of being a progressive thinking enterprise.

While it remains to be seen what the result of the sexual harassment claims will be, they have already brought an increased focus on the purported underside of the male-dominated Silicon Valley culture.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Lawsuit Shakes Foundation of a Man's World of Tech," David Streitfeld, The New York Times, June 6, 2012

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Email Us For A Response

Contact Us - Free Initial Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Pasadena Office

128 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Suite 204
Pasadena, CA 91103

Toll Free: 866-457-2590
Phone: 626-381-9261
Fax: 626-577-7079
Pasadena Law Office Map

Downtown Los Angeles Office (Legal Fund)
250 1st Street, Suite 1201
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Phone: 213-785-6999
Los Angeles Law Office Map