Pao made needlessly “scurrilous” claims: Kleiner

June 15, 2012

When are facts just the facts– and when do they become scurrilous?

That’s the question created by venture-capital fund Kleiner Perkins in its bid to arbitrate partner Ellen Pao’s discrimination lawsuit against the firm — a turn of events which would sink the proceedings out of public view.

In a memo filed Tuesday in California state court Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers argues that in her May complaint, Pao included “provocative facts– many unnecessary to the pleading of her claims”. The firm gave the example of her relationship with Ajit Nazre, a former partner who left the firm earlier this year. Pao said he pressured her to sleep with him.

“These allegations were simply unnecessary to the retaliation cause of action that was pled,” the firm said in its memo (see  a page from the memo paomemo), adding it believed Pao’s goals were met when the allegations created a “media firestorm.”

“Pao could simply have pled that she protested unwelcome attention, without publicly pleading scurrilous matters,” the firm continued in a footnote. “Including her inability to remember how many times she actually had sexual relations with her married co-worker.”

In her suit, Pao said she had “eventually succumbed to Mr. Nazre’s insistence on sexual relations on two or three occasions.”

In arguing for arbitration, the firm cites its desire to keep confidential agreements between its partners and the firm on compensation, including the partners’ economic interests in various funds.

“KPCB would be irreparably injured if a competitor obtained confidential documents pertaining to Managing LLC or Fund operations and compensation,” Kleiner wrote in a separate document. “Information regarding the specific terms… would give our competitors a significant advantage in recruiting KPCB partners.”

The firm added that recruits don’t see key compensation documents surrounding funds “until after that recruit has accepted employment at KPCB.”

Pao’s attorney, Alan Exelrod, said by phone he planned ” to vigorously contest their request for arbitration.” A hearing on the matter is set for July 10.

 

 

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