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Ellen Pao, Kleiner Perkins disagree on whether she’s been fired

The former junior investment partner sued the venture capital firm for gender discrimination and retaliation in May

This much is clear: Ellen Pao is leaving Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. What isn’t so apparent is whether the former investment partner was fired in retaliation for sexual harassment allegations, or whether she is transitioning out of the venture capital firm.

This week on the question-and-answer website Quora, Pao responded to a question about her employment status with the following post: “I have been terminated from my job at KPCB. On Monday afternoon, senior management told me to clean out my office, leave and not come back.”

But Kleiner Perkins denies that Pao’s departure has anything to do with her sexual harassment allegations. In fact, the firm says, she hasn’t even departed yet. “Because of long-standing issues having no relationship or bearing on the litigation, Kleiner Perkins approached Ms. Pao to facilitate her transition, over an extended period of time, out of the firm,” a firm spokesperson said in a statement.

Pao sued the venture capital firm for gender discrimination and retaliation in May, claiming that she was the victim of sexual harassment by former Kleiner Perkins investment partner Ajit Jazre, who left the firm last year. Pao’s suit also detailed a broader pattern of discrimination, in which female employees were regularly passed over for promotions and excluded from firm events.

Her employer fired back with its own filing, arguing that Pao’s poor performance, not her gender, had cost her promotions. It also maintained that Pao did not voice her discrimination allegations until late 2011, nearly five years after the harassment purportedly began.

Last July, a judge denied the firm’s request to send the case to arbitration. Kleiner Perkins has appealed that ruling.

Read more at Thomson Reuters.

For more InsideCounsel coverage of sexual harassment cases, see:

Paula Deen says harassment claims are false

Letter detailing Hurd’s misconduct is unsealed

Fry’s Electronics will pay $2.3 million to settle EEOC suit

Labor: 8 tips on how to keep your company out of the sexual harassment spotlight

Alanna Byrne

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