Jury clears Silicon Valley firm in high-profile sex bias case

A California jury on Friday cleared venture capital firm Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers on all claims brought by former partner Ellen Pao in a high-profile sex discrimination lawsuit.

The decision came more than two hours after jurors failed to cast the votes needed to deliver a verdict on all the lawsuit’s claims. The presiding judge ordered jurors to resume deliberation after a discrepancy relating to whether she was fired in retaliation for making discrimination claims.

The lawsuit, filed in 2012, became a catalyst for broader discussions about the discrimination in Silicon Valley, where men outnumber women by a large margin at both start-ups and venture capital firms. Pao claims that she was denied advancement at the firm—an early backer of Google and Amazon—after she ended a brief affair with a then-partner, and then was subsequently fired. Her attorneys painted Kleiner Perkins as a boys club, where one former male partner made passes at female colleagues.

The jury initially found that Pao’s gender was not a “substantial” reason for the firm not to promote her or to terminate her employment. Following the additional deliberation, it ruled that Pao was not fired in retaliation for raising discrimination concerns or filing the lawsuit. 

After the verdict was delivered, Pao said that she hoped the lawsuit helped make the venture capital sphere easier for minorities.

The firm denies that it discriminated against women, saying that it goes out of its way to be gender-diverse.

Kleiner Perkins attorneys said that Pao’s lack of advancement was due to subpar performance and tried to show that she was considered a difficult presence in the organization.

CNBC’s Scott Cohn and Re/code contributed to this story. This article originally appeared on CNBC.com.

California, Discrimination, Sexism and Technology

Jury clears Silicon Valley firm in high-profile sex bias case