Ellen Pao may still have to write a hefty check to Kleiner Perkins after all, but it could be worse.
A San Francisco judge tentatively ruled Wednesday that Pao must pay $275,966.33 to her former employer, Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as a result of losing her high-profile sex discrimination case against them.
More than a month after her loss, Pao and her attorneys had requested Judge Harold Kahnthe order for her to pay nearly $1 million in legal fees to the storied VC firm, arguing that the amount was "grossly excessive and unreasonable."
But Kahn said Wednesday that Pao's motion to strike the costs was both "granted in part and denied in part," as his tentative ruling of nearly $276,000 in fees is just a little over one-quarter of the nearly $973,000 Kleiner Perkins was seeking as its legal right. Pao's fee will pay mostly for the cost of Kleiner's expert witnesses. Kahn said he took into consideration the financial resources of both parties and ordered Pao to pay the firm an amount similar to what she paid for her expert witnesses. A hearing on the matter is scheduled Thursday in San Francisco Superior Court, after which the ruling could become final.
In March, a San Francisco jury of six men and six womenPao's claim of discrimination and retaliation over her 2012 firing from Kleiner Perkins. The monthlong trial featured accusations of a boys club-like atmosphere at the firm, testimony about alleged poor job performance during Pao's seven years there, and discussion of Pao's affair with a married colleague.
Pao had sought $16 million in lost wages in the trial that rocked Silicon Valley, captured the nation's attention and cast a spotlight on gender and racial disparities in tech.
Less than a month after the verdict, Kleiner Perkins said it wouldits legal fees if Pao agreed not to appeal her loss. After considering it, Pao a notice to appeal on June 1, which gave her 40 days to list her arguments.
Still, Kleiner Perkins spokeswoman Christina Lee said Wednesday the firm was pleased the court reached a fair result on the fees.
"This tentative ruling recognizes that our settlement offer was reasonable and made in good faith," Lee said. "It also recognizes the cost rules still apply when a plaintiff refuses a reasonable settlement offer and forces the parties to go through an expensive trial."
Pao, the current interim CEO of the social-networking and new site Reddit, had no comment, her spokeswoman Heather Wilson said Wednesday.