Goldman Sachs Grapples with Class Action: 2,300 women claim discrimination

Former Goldman Sachs employees Cristina Chen-Oster and Shanna Orlich are leading a 2,300-member class in a gender bias suit against the banking firm in the Southern District Court of New York. Chen-Oster and Orlich first filed in 2010, and are still battling with the defendants. The plaintiffs recently rebuked an expert report by Michael A. Campion that explained the pay gap between male and female employees as “plausible” due to male workers’ greater willingness to take on “extreme jobs.” Plaintiffs filed a motion urging District Judge Analisa Torres to strike the report as methodologically unsound and as having “zero scientific credibility.” Goldman Sachs hopes to bar the women’s bid for class certification based on the wide variety of positions they held at the firm. They compared the scenario to the massive class struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in Dukes v. Wal-Mart: “Both before and after Wal-Mart, federal courts have repeatedly denied class certification in employment discrimination cases where, as here, plaintiffs cannot show the existence of common questions suitable for class-wide resolution.” Originally filed in 2001, that case is still ongoing.

The plaintiffs argued that women working in different departments should be grouped together in this suit alleging a gender gap in pay and promotions that were uniform discriminatory company policies. They alleged that the bank pays similarly situated female vice presidents 21 percent less than their male counterparts and 23 percent fewer female vice presidents are promoted to managing director roles.

Bank of America recently settled a $39 million gender discrimination case brought by women working in its Merrill Lynch brokerage, a class of 4,800 current and former female employees. Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley recently agreed to a $4.2 million settlement in a different class action suit brought by client services associates who were denied overtime pay. One employee initiated the case in 2011, accusing Morgan Stanley of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and state labor law. Morgan Stanley is fighting yet another consolidated action related to overtime pay, brought by financial advisers and financial adviser trainees. The bank added $53 million in legal costs in the second quarter, compared to $1.9 billion in earnings.