Judge says plaintiff in venture firm bias case may seek damages potentially worth millions

Small BusinessAssociated Press

A California trial judge has ruled that a woman suing a Silicon Valley venture capital firm in a high-profile gender bias case may seek punitive damages that could add tens of millions more to the $16 million in lost wages and bonuses she is pursuing.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn on Saturday denied a request by lawyers for Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to have Ellen Pao's demand for punitive damages thrown out.

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Kahn says there is enough evidence for jurors to conclude that the firm acted with malice, oppression or fraud, which in California is the legal threshold for awarding damages that are designed to punish wrong-doing.

Pao alleges she was passed over for a promotion at Kleiner Perkins because she is a woman and fired after she complained.

Closing arguments are expected Tuesday.