KLEINER PERKINS CASE SHINES SPOTLIGHT ON GENDER DISCRIMINATION IN SILICON VALLEY
- posted: Mar. 12, 2015
- Zafer Akin, Esq.
Recently, a jury heard arguments in a gender discrimination case against one of the most prominent venture-capital firms in Silicon Valley, Kleiner Perkins. The plaintiff, Ellen Pao, filed the case against the firm, claiming that a married colleague pressured her into having an affair with him, and retaliated against her by excluding her from meetings after she decided to end the relationship. She also claimed that gender discrimination was widespread at Kleiner Perkins, and that female partners were excluded from meetings with entrepreneurs because it was believed that they would “kill the buzz.”
In response to the allegations, Kleiner Perkins argued that Pao underperformed at her position, and was not suited to leadership roles. Regardless of how the case is resolved, it has played an important role in renewing discussion about gender discrimination in the tech sector and in senior workplace positions.
Gender discrepancies in leadership roles
Women are seriously underrepresented in leadership roles in a wide variety of industries. Currently, women hold only 4.8 percent of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. Recent studies have suggested that only 6 percent of partners at venture capital firms are women. The proverbial glass ceiling is not a thing of the past – women are all too often passed over for promotion because they are not taken seriously in the workplace.
Women in the tech sector often face gender bias
Women in the tech world face considerable obstacles in their careers. Many women are treated differently from their male counterparts, believed to be less skilled than men, or are viewed less as colleagues and more as conquests. Women occupy few positions in tech companies as is and oftentimes, victims of gender discrimination are afraid to speak out because they do not want to jeopardize their careers.
Gender discrimination is illegal
City, state, and federal laws prohibit gender discrimination in the workplace. If you have faced sex discrimination or harassment at work, the first step you should take is to inform a supervisor or your human resources department of the situation. After your employer is aware of the problem, it is required to conduct a swift and impartial investigation, and take appropriate disciplinary action if unlawful behavior is found to have occurred.
Your employer is strictly barred from retaliation: if it is found to have retaliated against you in any way for reporting the discrimination or harassment, it will face considerably heavier penalties in court.
When to consider legal action
If your employer retaliated against you, or failed to properly respond when you complained of unlawful gender discrimination or sexual harassment, you should consider taking legal action. Through legal action, you can recover damages for your emotional suffering, front pay, back pay, lost wages, attorney’s fees, and possibly reinstatement to your former position. Please note that gender discrimination and sexual harassment claims are time sensitive. If you believe that you have been subjected to unlawful discrimination or harassment in the workplace, it is crucial that you take action as soon as possible before the statute of limitations has expired.
The lawyers at Akin Law Group are experienced in advocating for victims of gender discrimination and sexual harassment in all industries and venues. Contact us at 866.685.5163 to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.