(Reuters) – Ellen Pao, a former partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers who has filed a discrimination and retaliation lawsuit against the venture firm, had offered to resign from Kleiner five years before filing her lawsuit, court documents show.
The documents, filed this week, state that Pao said in June 2007 she would resign due to job dissatisfaction, seven months after she ended an affair that is at the heart of her lawsuit. Pao alleges she was pressured into a relationship with then-partner Ajit Nazre, who retaliated against her for years after she called it off.
Kleiner has denied the charges of discrimination and retaliation, along with charges that it did not take reasonable steps to prevent discrimination.
Neither Kleiner nor Pao immediately responded to requests for comment.
The case has rattled Silicon Valley, in part because of Kleiner’s high profile, and sparked an ongoing discussion about gender in the technology sector.
This week Kleiner provided more details in response to documents that Pao’s lawyers filed to quash Kleiner’s efforts to seek employment records from her current employer, social-news site reddit, where Pao is chief executive officer. Kleiner said Pao withdrew her 2007 resignation after partner John Doerr, for whom she worked as chief of staff, persuaded her to stay.
Pao disclosed the affair then, the documents show, but asked the partners not to punish Nazre, saying, it “is the wrong thing to do right now.”
But by the end of that year, Nazre’s retaliation prompted Pao to complain to Doerr and another partner, who Pao said did nothing about the situation then, according to Pao’s initial complaint. She has painted a picture of worsening retaliation over the years.
Kleiner says Pao was an underperforming partner to whom it gave chances to improve, including regular mentoring sessions with prominent CEO coach Bill Campbell.
Pao had planned to leave Kleiner for another venture capital firm in late 2011, Kleiner’s filing said. An earlier filing shows that firm was Google Ventures. But the potential job fell through.
Pao submitted her first written complaint about retaliation and gender discrimination in January 2012, the filing this week said. Kleiner said it received no other complaints about sexual harassment by Nazre for several years after Pao disclosed their affair. Nazre has since left the firm.
The case is scheduled for trial in California state Superior Court in San Francisco starting next month.