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Ellen Pao won't appeal loss in sex discrimination lawsuit

Pao says it's time to move on after more than three years in a closely watched legal battle against storied venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins.

Ellen Pao, who lost a high-profile sex discrimination case in March, will not appeal the decision.

Pao, who sued her former employer Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, wrote in a guest post on Recode Thursday that after more than three years of litigation she's "moving on." Pao sued the storied venture capital firm claiming a pervasive culture of sexism ultimately led to her being forced out.

"Seeking justice in the courts has been painful for me personally and professionally, and for my family. I am now moving on," Pao said. "My experience shows how difficult it is to address discrimination through the court system."

Ellen Pao will not appeal her loss in the sex discrimination case against Kleiner Perkins. Robert Galbraith/Reuters/Corbis

For many people, Pao has become a poster child for the battle against sexism in Silicon Valley. Her legal fight touched off discussions about gender and racial disparities throughout the tech industry, leading some of its largest companies, including Apple, Facebook and Google, to promise change.

Those discussions didn't ultimately help her suit, though. A San Francisco jury on March 27 rejected Pao's complaint, which sought $16 million in damages for discrimination and retaliation.

In a written statement, Kleiner Perkins responded Thursday saying it was glad the suit had concluded, adding "there is no question diversity in the workplace is an important issue."

After Pao lost, Kleiner Perkins sought to recoup legal fees of nearly $1 million but offered to drop its request if she chose not to appeal. In June, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn ordered Pao to pay nearly $276,000, most of which would help cover some of the costs for the firm's expert witnesses in the suit.

International fame

Pao isn't just someone who sued Kleiner Perkins. She was named the interim CEO of social-networking site Reddit in November 2014 as she was preparing for trial. She resigned from Reddit in July, shortly after she lost her case, following a series of controversial moves that upset Reddit users.

Those people complained that Pao was encouraging censorship at the site, shutting down some forums associated with harassment. They organized a petition demanding Pao step down and collected more than 200,000 signatures.

In her post Thursday, Pao accused Kleiner Perkins of using a public relations campaign to influence the media against her. Pao said she believes stories written about her on the Internet influenced jurors. She also said she turned down offers to settle with the firm so she could keep telling her story.

Pao, who said she will continue to work in the tech industry, concluded that she can't afford to fight the firm any longer.

"With my resources and fortitude, and the strength of my case, I still cannot afford to take further legal action," she said. "Even the courts do not provide a level playing field, and it's hard to afford justice."