A venture-capital firm from Silicon Valley has appealed a decision from a California judge that would have permitted a sexual harassment case to remain in the courts instead of moving to an arbitration proceeding. The firm, Kleiner Perkins AsbillCaufield & Byers, is a technology group based in the high-tech area in California.
Kleiner is accused of systematic sexual discrimination by refusing to promote women and generally ignoring sexual harassment complaints. The woman who is bringing the suit had worked as a partner at the venture-capital fund. She contends that the firm did not have an adequate reporting system for sexual harassment complaints. The company argues that the woman never voiced her unhappiness with the environment at the firm, instead choosing to keep her complaints to herself.
Kleiner also argues that the woman signed arbitration agreements that would require her to abandon the court proceedings. The woman’s attorney successfully proved that arbitration was only mandatory if the woman was involved in a suit related to an individual fund. Instead, she chose to sue the firm as a whole, which makes a court proceeding more appropriate.
Kleiner representatives expressed dismay at the judge’s decision, saying that arbitration would be an easier and more efficient way to reach a decision in the case. Arbitration is a process that is much like mediation, as it requires that both parties work together to come up with a solution. Arbitration proceedings often negate many of the legal rights of the plaintiff, however, which is why the woman is seeking to keep the case in the courts.
It is unclear how long the appeals process will take, though documents often take as long as a month to process, according to representatives from the state’s legal resources.
Source: The San Jose Mercury News, “Kleiner Perkins Asbillappeals decision for trial in sexual harassment case,” Sarah McBride, Aug. 7, 2012