Ellen Pao’s Loss: What’s An Affair Got to Do With It?

Ellen Pao’s Loss: What’s An Affair Got to Do With It?

Our legal, societal and religious standards say sleeping with a married person is wrong. So, the jury didn’t react positively when Ellen Pao’s affair with married Kleiner, Perkins partner, Ajit Nazre, was mentioned more than once in the recent trial of Ms. Pao against Kleiner. 

No matter how many men and women have affairs, and no matter how many women and men might describe their affair experience as the most exciting and pleasurable times of their lives, having an affair still has a bad ring, one that certainly did not help Ellen Pao during her highly publicized trial.  

The Affair Took the Lead When the Jurors Asked Questions

Ellen Pao

When the judge allowed the jurors to ask questions directly of the witnesses, including Ellen Pao, we learned something about what the jurors were thinking.

One juror asked if it was “professional to enter into an affair with a married partner?”  Ellen tried to defend her actions against what this juror obviously thought was unprofessional and harmful, saying “Going back I would not have done it again, but I didn’t think it was inappropriate at the time” and emphasizing the married partner said he was separated. [Reuters, March 27, 2015]  It was only later, according to Pao, that she learned that the Kleiner Perkins partner, Nazre, had lied.

And, it’s likely that Nazre lied a second time about his marriage. When another juror asked, “Why was she [Pao] so adamant about him [Nazre] staying at the firm after she complained to senior partners that he had pressured her into sex and then retaliated against her after she broke off the relationship?”

Pao answered that “she was in a difficult position because getting him fired would have exacerbated his already serious marital and family problems.”  [Fortune, March, 2015] Nazre was probably lying again to Ellen.

Lies That Are Typical of Married Men Having Affairs

Apparently he told her that his marriage was already in deep trouble. Sadly, this is a common tale for a married man having an affair. It is designed to make the affair partner feel that she is not actually breaking up a marriage or a family. Typically, the man will claim that not only is he already separated, but that there is absolutely NO HOPE for his marriage.

The chronology is almost always, first the affair, then the serious problems or divorce. Every marriage has some problems and disagreements which often can be worked out or tolerated. But when an affair comes into the picture, then common problems frequently turn into crises that are fatal for the marriage.

It is entirely believable that Pao thought Nazre was telling her the truth when he said he was separated and his marriage was virtually unsalvageable.

If only Pao and Nazre had known the truth about affairs beforehand. He would have known not to put forth these lies because she would also have known not to believe him. The affair story repeated itself and none of this predictable, typical behavior helped Ellen Pao’s case one bit.

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