Controversy continues to spark in the ongoing sexual harassment lawsuit brought earlier this year by a prominent partner at a major Silicon Valley venture capital firm. The junior partner initiated a lawsuit after years of alleged sexual harassment by a superior at the firm.
The lawsuit has caused shockwaves across the tech industry, which had been widely viewed as a meritocracy that was free of prejudice and discrimination. Instead, the allegations from one of the industry’s rising investment stars have called into question the culture of technology investment companies.
Her former employer continues to deny the claims made in the sexual harassment lawsuit, saying that she was denied promotional opportunities because of her poor performance, not in retaliation for her complaints about harassment.
The woman who brought the complaint has continued to work at the investment firm, which can be very difficult and stressful during a lawsuit. It is more common for workers to file a complaint after they have been wrongfully terminated or forced to quit their job because of a hostile work environment.
However, the woman’s lawyer did say that she was cut off from access to company information and instructed to transition her accounts. Her pay has been continued, however, so there is some dispute over the extent of her ongoing employment. Her lawyer said that her current treatment is clearly in retaliation for her effort to seek justice for the sexual harassment.
If she was fired in retaliation for her complaint and not for poor performance, then that could factor significantly into her overall case and may lend legitimacy to her allegations of a hostile work environment.
Source: New York Times, “At Venture Capital Firm, Arguments About Whether a Partner Is Still Employed,” Nicole Perlroth, Oct. 3, 2012.