Woman behind bias suit against Silicon Valley firm testifies

A woman behind a high-profile sexual discrimination lawsuit against one of Silicon Valley's most prestigious venture capital firms testified Monday that female employees were treated disrespectfully — and some were not even invited — when the company held a series of events.

Plaintiff Ellen Pao also told the jury at the civil trial that she complained to management about the atmosphere at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers after learning a female colleague had complained about alleged sexual harassment.

Pao took the witness stand for the first time in the case that has shined a spotlight on gender imbalance in the venture capital and technology sectors, where women are grossly underrepresented.

The trial has also brought some of the nation's most accomplished venture capitalists into the courtroom, where they have faced tough questions the behavior of men in the workplace.

Pao testified that it seemed like none of the female junior partners at Kleiner Perkins were going to be promoted, and the company took no action regarding the sexual harassment claim by her colleague.

"Kleiner Perkins did nothing," she said.

Pao appeared calm on the stand, smiling as she discussed her educational and job background before joining Kleiner Perkins in 2005.

Her lawsuit alleges she was passed over for a promotion because she is a woman and then fired later in 2012 after she filed her complaint.

Kleiner Perkins has denied wrongdoing and says Pao didn't get along with her colleagues and performed poorly after she became a junior partner in 2010.

The firm hired an investigator who concluded that the sexual harassment claim was true.

Pao's attorneys have described the firm as an old-boys club where women were excluded from parties at former Vice President Al Gore's house, asked to take notes at a meeting like secretaries and subjected to harassment and boorish behavior by their male colleagues such as a conversation about porn stars and a trip to the Playboy Mansion aboard a private jet.

The investigator hired by the firm to investigate Pao's complaint concluded there was no gender discrimination at the firm.

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