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Goldman Sachs Gender Discrimination Class Action Lawsuit

Chen-Oster v. Goldman Sachs, Inc., Case No. 10-6950 (S.D.N.Y.).

Lieff Cabraser and Outten & Golden serve as Co-Lead Counsel for plaintiffs in a gender discrimination class action lawsuit against Goldman Sachs. In March 2018, the Court granted Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, thereby certifying a class of current and former female Associates and Vice Presidents employed by Goldman Sachs in the Investment Banking, Investment Management, and Securities divisions in the United States from September 20, 2004 through the resolution of the action, and in New York City from July 7, 2002 through the resolution of the action.

The case challenges Goldman Sachs’ alleged systemic and pervasive discrimination in pay, promotions, and performance violations in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York City Human Rights Law under both disparate impact and disparate treatment theories.

April 2020 Case Update

The case is currently proceeding toward a trial on whether Goldman Sachs violated federal and New York law by alleged gender discrimination against the Class. Merits discovery is scheduled to conclude in August 2020, after Plaintiffs complete depositions of key witnesses, including corporate decisionmakers. Trial is expected in 2021.

Since the class was certified in March 2018, and notice to class members was completed in January 2019, Goldman Sachs has attempted to remove over half of the more than 3220 class members through motions to arbitrate based on four types of agreements.  Plaintiffs have objected to Goldman’s arbitration gambit and also filed a motion for certain sanctions against Goldman for disseminating misleading class waivers and arbitration clauses that violated Federal Rule 23(d).

On March 26, 2020, the Magistrate Judge assigned to the case issued a recommendation to the District Court in which he agreed with Plaintiffs that Goldman Sachs disseminated misleading communications in violation of Rule 23(d) as to 694 class members who were purportedly subject to arbitration by reason of Equity Award Agreements, and he ordered that those class members be permitted to opt out of arbitration with no impact on the equity award they received.  He declined to strike the arbitration clauses across the board based on Plaintiffs’ argument that Goldman waited too long (and thereby waived its right) to compel arbitration.  Regardless of the outcome of appeal, this arbitration ruling has no effect on the nearly 1400 class members for whom no motion to arbitrate was filed.

On April 16, 2020, both sides appealed the Magistrate Judge’s ruling to the District Court.  Plaintiffs argued that (1) the Magistrate failed to properly apply the law of waiver to the belatedly initiated arbitration requests, (2) Goldman’s communications misconduct extended to all of the clauses disseminated after this case was filed, and (3) the Court’s “remedy” for the misconduct, permitting class members to opt out of arbitration, is wholly insufficient to deter the misconduct and needlessly imposes another burden on the class.  Briefing on the appeal will be complete in April 2020, with a decision expected in late Spring or Summer of 2020.

March 2018 Case Update

On March 30, 2018, District Court Judge Analisa Torres issued an order certifying the plaintiffs’ damages class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 23(b)(3). Judge Torres certified plaintiffs’ claims for both disparate impact and disparate treatment discrimination, relying on statistical evidence of discrimination in pay, promotions, and performance evaluations, as well as anecdotal evidence of Goldman’s hostile work environment. In so ruling, the court also granted plaintiffs’ motion to exclude portions of Goldman’s expert evidence as unreliable, and denied all of Goldman’s motions to exclude plaintiffs’ expert evidence. The Court appointed Cristina Chen-Oster, Shanna Orlich, Allison Gamba, and Mary De Luis as Class Representatives.

The certified Class consists of current and former female Associates and Vice Presidents employed by Goldman Sachs in the Investment Banking, Investment Management, and Securities divisions in the United States from September 20, 2004 through the resolution of the action, and in New York City from July 7, 2002 through the resolution of the action.

Court-approved notice will be mailed to the Class as soon as the notice plan is approved by the Court.

Read a copy of Judge Torres’ March 30, 2018 Opinion and Order.

April 2017 Update

In April of 2017, District Court Judge Analisa Torres granted plaintiffs’ motion to amend their complaint and add new representative plaintiffs, denied Goldman Sachs’ motions to dismiss the new plaintiffs’ claims, and ordered the parties to submit proposals by April 26, 2017, on a process for addressing Magistrate Judge Francis’ March 2015 Report and Recommendation on class certification.

Lieff Cabraser partner Kelly M. Dermody, who represents the plaintiffs in the case, commented on Judge Torres’ Opinion and Order: “We are pleased that the Court corrected an error in the earlier standing order and brought this case into the mainstream of District court precedent. We look forward to continuing the fight for gender equity at Goldman.”

Factual Allegations

Goldman Sachs is a global investment banking, securities and investment management firm, which generated $45 billion in revenue in 2009. The complaint charges that Goldman Sachs has distributed the benefits of its enormous success unequally – systematically favoring male Associates and Vice Presidents at the expense of their female counterparts. The alleged sex discrimination includes:

  1. At nearly all levels of its professional ranks, Goldman Sachs has paid its female professionals less than similarly situated male professionals, even though they hold equivalent positions and perform the same or substantially similar work;
  2. Goldman Sachs maintains policies and practices for promoting its vice presidents that result in the disproportionate promotion of men over equally or more qualified women. As a result, female vice presidents have been systematically denied promotion opportunities that are routinely afforded to their male counterparts.
  3. Goldman Sachs’ systems for evaluating employees’ performance lack key safeguards to ensure fairness and proper implementation, resulting in the systematic undervaluation of female employees’ performance.
  4. Goldman Sachs allows managers, the overwhelming majority of whom are men, to assign responsibilities, accounts, and projects to their subordinates without accountability measures to ensure fairness. The end result is that managers most often assign the most lucrative and promising opportunities to male employees.

Contact Plaintiffs’ Counsel

Current and former female Associates and Vice Presidents of Goldman Sachs who wish to report their experiences at the company or submit a complaint should click here to contact plaintiffs’ counsel or call Lieff Cabraser toll-free at 1 800 541-7358 and ask to speak to attorney Anne Shaver.

All information will be held strictly confidential. There is no charge or obligation for our review of your case.

Prior Case Status

On October 15, 2013, the Court ordered Goldman Sachs to turn over internal complaints by female employees relating to gender discrimination, including the names of the complainants. The Court held that plaintiffs are entitled to discover the identities of the complainants because they are potential witnesses with knowledge relevant to the lawsuit.

On September 10, 2012, the Court ordered Goldman Sachs to produce key personnel data and policy documents from 2002 to the present. The Court rejected defendants’ arguments that they should only have to produce a small sample of such data at this stage of the case, finding instead that plaintiffs must be able to test their allegations with respect to the entire proposed class.

On July 17, 2012, the Court issued an order concerning defendants’ motions to strike class allegations and for partial summary judgment. The Court upheld the complaint in substantial part, allowing all claims to go forward.