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Woman sues California firm for alleged sexism

A California-based venture capital firm has made a legal move to avoid addressing a discrimination suit brought by one of its partners. The suit alleges the woman dealt with ignored complaints about alleged sex discrimination and harassment in the workplace.

The suit has become a hot topic in the Silicon Valley, where sexism has been prevalent since the inception of the first tech company. The woman's lawsuit alleges that the company described women at the firm as "buzz kills," refusing to promote them to positions that they had earned. Furthermore, the woman alleges that the firm hosted male-only dinners for employees and partners.

The firm issued a response to the allegations that addressed some of the more lascivious claims, including the fact that a supervisor encouraged the woman to marry a colleague who had been harassing her. The document did not address some of the other allegations, though, which accused the company of sexism in profit sharing and promotion opportunities.

The firm contends that the woman did not complain about any of the sexual harassment between 2007 and 2012, though she was hired in 2005. That assertion comes in spite of the fact that the woman says she spoke to several human resources personnel at the company, both internal and external consultants. She also had spoken with other partners about the issue in an effort to resolve the problems.

The firm said that it failed to promote the woman because she had a bad performance record, but reviews show that she had received both positive and negative feedback during her reviews. She says instead that the firm had a systematic practice of keeping women out of high-paying, decision-making roles.

Source: The Chicago Tribune, "Venture firm Kleiner moves to dismiss discrimination suit," Sarah McBride, June 14, 2012

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