In the high profile Ellen Pao sexual discrimination and retaliation case, testimony is underscoring the accuracy of my affair chronology and the real meaning behind coded phrases.
Here’s the scenario according to sworn testimony
A woman was having an affair with a married man at her high profile venture capital firm. She says he told her that he and his wife were divorcing. Ellen Pao, the woman, discovered that this wasn’t true and she says she felt manipulated and deceived.
Is this believable?
Why would a man tell an affair partner with that he and his wife were really separated and only one step away from divorce when that wasn’t true? What’s the purpose? What’s the meaning? Does it matter?
Yes, it is believable.
It is a key part of the chronology and background of an affair. The man’s basic elevator speech to his mistress is, “My wife is crazy, she doesn’t understand me, and the marriage is really over.”
What’s the purpose of telling her the marriage is really over?
This man wants the woman that he’s pursuing, in this case Ellen Pao, to feel comfortable and at ease sleeping with him. He wants her to feel that it’s not really cheating. If there’s no marriage except on paper, and even that’s going to go away very soon, then he hopes she will believe that the affair is not cheating. This way, she doesn’t have to feel guilty about breaking anything up because she is led to believe that it’s already broken.
Sometimes he also wants his mistress to feel that there might be marriage with him in the offing. He’ll be single very soon, he implies.
So what this woman says the married venture capital partner in her firm told her is very believable.
The jury will decide if it’s true. Because this is a real life story being played out in a courtroom in San Francisco and credibility and truth are on trial in a decision on a $16 million sex discrimination and retaliation claim by the woman who says the man told her his marriage was really over.
[UPDATE–As this blog was going up, a decision by the jury came down. Ellen Pao lost her discrimination and retaliation case. More analysis of possible reasons why and what role the affair played coming up.]
Wouldn’t it have been easier for Ellen Pao, the plaintiff and Kleiner, Perkins and all of its partners, the defendants, if they had first understood the chronology of an affair and how this can affect jobs, businesses and work relationships? If she had known all this, Ellen Pao would have been aware immediately that this man was likely lying to her and his marriage was not really over.
Human resources executives (if there had been any) at Kleiner, Perkins could have advised its employees not only to be wary of the consequences of affairs but also to find more truthful elevator speeches. Now, as the trial comes to a conclusion, the credibility of Ajit Nazre, the former male partner who had the affair, is in question. This questioning of his truthfulness carries over to statements he allegedly made or didn’t make. These statements affect the charges of discrimination or retaliation that have been alleged.
At the end of the day, Ellen Pao and Ajit Nazre are no longer at Kleiner, Perkins; and Mr. Nazre’s family has also certainly suffered.
Under the covers, the chronology and phraseology is the same. Ellen Pao is just the latest version of the same old story.