Hadsell Stormer Renick & Dai LLP
Free Consultations 626-381-9261

Plaintiff allowed to seek punitive damages in employment sexual discrimination case

California's Silicon Valley region is home to several of the most successful and profitable tech companies in the world. While the region and its many millionaires are used to being covered in the news, more recently the region has received attention for very different reasons as concerns about widespread sexual discrimination have surfaced.

The many technology and computer companies that call the region home are dominated by a large male workforce, with the Institute for Women in Technology estimating that women comprise only 20 to 23 percent of Silicon Valley's tech industry workforce. This male-dominated culture has been the subject of many news stories and is at the center of one recent and very public sexual discrimination lawsuit.

In 2012, a woman by the name of Ellen Pao was fired from a successful Silicon Valley venture capitalist firm. Pao had worked at the firm for seven years and, during that time, she contends was passed over for numerous promotions, paid less than her male colleagues and subjected to overt and egregious acts of sexual harassment and discrimination. Upon complaining about both a male colleague's sexual advances and the "firm's culture of gender discrimination," Pao says she was fired.

In response, Pao filed a $16 million dollar sexual discrimination lawsuit against her former employer and recently learned that she will be allowed to seek punitive damages. In employment lawsuits, California law allows a plaintiff to sue for punitive damages in cases where a defendant "acted with malice, fraud or oppression."

The judge’s ruling to allow Pao to seek punitive damages is significant in that, if successful, related monetary damages are often several times that which is awarded for compensatory damages. Additionally, the amount of punitive damages is often based on a defendant's assets which, in this case, is likely considerable.

Source: San Jose Mercury-News, "Judge: Ellen Pao may claim punitive damages in Kleiner Perkins suit," Heather Somerville, March 21, 2015

San Jose Mercury News, "Ellen Pao seeking $16 million in sex discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers," Heather Somerville, Feb. 2, 2015

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
    • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trial Lawyers
    • Top Listed In Best Lawyers | The World's Premier Guide
    • Americas Top 100 2017 | Criminal Defense Attorneys
    • AV Preeminent Martindale-Hubbell Lawyer Ratings
    • Super Lawyers | Rising Stars 2018
    • Best Lawyers US News 2016
    • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 40 Under 40
    • proud fellow of american bar foundation
    • 2018 Top 100 Lawyer ASLA
    • SuperLawyers Rising Stars 2018

Have You Been Victimized?

Speak to an attorney who will fight for you.

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

Email Us For A Response

Pasadena Office
128 N. Fair Oaks Avenue, Suite 204
Pasadena, CA 91103

Phone: 626-585-9600
Fax: 626-577-7079
Map & Directions

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

Phone: 213-785-6999
Map & Directions

Free Consultations

Tel: 626-381-9261
Toll-free: 866-457-2590