July 23, 2012
California Superior Court Refuses to Compel Arbitration in Sexual Harassment Claim
On May 10th, Ellen Pao, a junior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (Kleiner) filed a complaint in California state court. In her complaint, Pao alleges that Kleiner discriminates against female employees in their advancement and compansation based on gernder. She also alleges that Kleiner retaliated against her after she reported sexual harassment by Kleiner management.
At this point, the issue in the case is whether or not the case will go to arbitration. Kudge Kahn of the San Francisco Superior Court found that it should not. As the New York Times reported over the weekend, Judge Kahn commented on Kleiner's papers submitted in connection with its motion to compel arbitration as follows, "[A]ll of your papers were terrific and I disagreed with all of them.' Apparently, Pao had an arbitration agreement with Kleiner funds but not with the firm itself.
The Times interviewed Melinda Riechert, an attorney who represents employers. She explained the value of arbitration clauses in employment contracts: "People who want to keep cases out of hte press and the blogosphere should seriously consider arbitration agreements."
Yes, fear the blogosphere!
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