Search Site
Menu
7041 Koll Center Parkway, Suite 240 | Pleasanton, California 94566

The recent verdict of a Californiasex discrimination and retaliation case for a female employee suing her venture capitalist employer has highlighted a number of potential problems that can arise with employees. Most importantly, it illustrates how important keeping current records and employee reviews can be to protect a company against employee claims.

Facts of the Case

In the case ofEllen Pao v. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers LLC and Does 1-20, Ellen Pao was hired at Kleiner Perkins as a junior partner at the venture capital firm. Over the course of her employment at the company, Ms. Pao claimed that she was subjected to extreme sex discrimination and retaliatory actions because she was a woman. This included failure to be promoted from her junior partner title to managing partner, denial of pay increases or bonuses, and promotion of male colleagues with less experience or qualifications.

In addition, Ms. Pao claimed that she was faced with retaliatory actions from another male colleague after they ended their relationship that included taking away clients, excluding her from business meetings and deals, physical harassment, and was also accused of similar behavior with another female junior partner at the company. Ms. Pao also pointed to the company’s all male ski trips, dinners, placing males on all big accounts, and asking women to take notes during meetings.

In contrast, the attorneys for Kleiner Perkins argued that Ms. Pao did not have the interpersonal skills or the ability to work well with others to succeed in the business. They pointed to her annual performance reviews that started positive but became increasingly negative during her time at the company. At trial, the jury found for Kleiner Perkins in all four counts of sex discrimination and retaliation.

Importance of Employee Reviews

One of the biggest problems in cases of sex discrimination is that there is typically not a lot of documented evidence in either direction. Most cases come down to a “he said, she said” and the jury picks who they find most believable. As a result,workplace evaluations can carry a lot of weight in a sex discrimination trial.

Kleiner Perkins rested the majority of their argument on Ms. Pao’s annual employee reviews. Her workplace evaluations described her as having below average interpersonal skills, “territorial,” “sharp elbows,” and having her own agenda. A memo from the company also showed that despite coaching and mentorship from her superiors, she did not improve.

This is an important lesson for other businesses that could potentially face issues of sex discrimination. Having a well-documented history of your employees’ interactions and reviews can help defend against claims of discrimination or retaliation in the workplace. It can highlight the fact that the employee simply did not live up to the expectations of the job, and not that the person was discriminated against based on gender or other discriminatory reasons.

Call a California Employment Law Attorney

If you have questions about how the Ellen Pao verdict or employee reviews could affect your business in Pleasanton, Alameda County, or the Tri-Valley area, let the experienced employment law attorneys atGarcia & Gurney, A Law Corporation help. Call the office orcontact us today for a private consultation of your case.

Importance of Employee Reviews 08Apr15

Contact us

Please fill out the form below and one of our attorneys will contact you.

Quick Contact Form

Awards/Affiliations
Events and News
  • "New Laws for 2018November 15, 2017"

  • "E-Contracts & E-Signatures: Benefits and PitfallsOctober 18, 2017"

  • "Protecting your IPAugust 9, 2017"

  • "Medical Marijuana & Employment: The Do’s and Don’tsJune 28, 2017"

  • "Medical Marijuana & Employment: The Do’s and Don’tsApril 10, 2017"

Client Testimonials
  • "Melinda Garcia came very highly recommended by two colleagues who raved about her expertise and assertiveness. She and her team are extremely responsive and help us navigate the legal challenges of our consulting business. We're thrilled to have Melinda on our side!"

  • "Melinda Garcia was wonderful to work with. She is an outstanding listener and has a great memory for details and personal information.... which makes one feel very comfortable and welcome. I would highly recommend her to anyone not only because of her outstanding abilities but because of the compassion she eludes in dealing with an individual's issues/concerns."

  • "Highly recommend! I was in need of urgent help with an employment matter and Melinda Garcia came through for me the same day. She fit me in for a consultation within hours of my call and read my documents prior to our meeting. She was thorough, attentive to my needs, knowledgeable, professional and above all very comforting."

  • "Melinda Garcia provided me excellent advice in resolving an employment agreement related to an acquisition of the company I worked for. She is very knowledgeable, asked me what I wanted to achieve with her services, provided excellent service to achieve those goals, and was very cognizant of fees. I recommend her for employment related services."

  • "Melinda Garcia provided excellent guidance with an employment/compensation case. Her knowledge of employment law, and strong negotiation skills, brought the case to a successful conclusion."

  • "Melinda Garcia has done an excellent job assisting us as we established our small business. From incorporation to contract negotiations, Melinda Garcia and her staff were outstanding"