As highlighted in a feature article in Bloomberg Businessweek, a federal judge in New York recently ruled that a former vice president of Goldman Sachs and three other women can now represent as many as 2,300 other current and former Goldman Sachs employees over claims of systemic gender discrimination at the global investment banking giant. After 13 years, dozens of lawyers, and more than 580 docket entries, Cristina Chen-Oster’s case finally won class action status in the Goldman Sachs gender discrimination lawsuit. Bloomberg’s piece provides a detailed history of Chen-Oster’s long struggle as well as the advocacy and unrelenting work of her attorney, Lieff Cabraser partner Kelly M. Dermody.
“Eventually the truth always comes out, it’s just a question of time,” stated Chen-Oster. “It’s our duty and our right to shine a light.” Bloomberg notes that Chen-Oster’s struggle “represents the sobering reality of what it takes to challenge Wall Street’s problem with women. In an industry adept at keeping embarrassing details quiet, with a culture that fetishizes secrecy and loyalty, the question isn’t why so few women speak up. It’s why any speak up at all.”
“You get to use the power of the aggregated workforce data to attack the firm’s failings,” says Dermody, who lead’s Lieff Cabraser’s employment law practice group and works as co-lead counsel in the Goldman Sachs lawsuit. “You say, ‘Look, this overwhelming trend needs an explanation at a system level.’”
Chen-Oster began her career at Goldman Sachs in 1997, with the promise and hope of “epitomiz[ing] Wall Street power, reaching into almost every market, inspiring fierce loyality, and rewarding stars with fat bonuses.” When she first started her job at the company, she produced impressive results and became a top salesperson for the firm; however, over time she realized that there were serious flaws in the company culture – flaws that operated to her detriment. Issues of sexual harassment, humiliation, gender discrimination, and lesser pay and promotion as compared to her male counterparts arose.
In September 2010, Chen-Oster, along with two other plaintiffs: Lisa Parisi, a former Goldman Sachs managing director, and Shanna Orlich, an associate, sued the bank on claims of discrimination in the workplace. All three plaintiffs wanted to force Goldman Sachs to change its company policies and pay for its mistakes.
The women’s suit against Goldman Sachs continued to remain in limbo even as the #MeToo movement gathered force and attention in 2017. “At one point, Goldman was arguing that the fact the case had gone on so long was itself grounds to make it go on even longer,” noted Bloomberg. The case was finally granted class certification in the year 2018 – 13 years after it was first filed. In order to gain class action status, the courts had to be convinced that class members faced common problems.
Chen-Oster’s newly certified class action could go to trial as early as next year. While Goldman Sach’s “ferocious defense and the long arc of the case so far might seem like a warning to women considering new battles,” as Bloomberg reports, Chen-Oster recounts how a friend at a different financial firm went to compliance training that, she said, boiled down to: Do whatever it takes to avoid another Chen-Oster vs. Goldman Sachs. “It’s having a positive impact,” she says. “Just raising awareness is a big one right there.”
About the Goldman Sachs Gender Discrimination Lawsuit
Lieff Cabraser serves as Co-Lead Counsel with Outten & Golden for plaintiffs in a gender discrimination class action lawsuit against Goldman Sachs. The complaint alleges that Goldman Sachs has engaged in systemic and pervasive discrimination against its female professional employees in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York City Human Rights Law.
The complaint charges that, among other things, Goldman Sachs pays its female professionals less than similarly situated males, disproportionately promotes men over equally or more qualified women, and offers better business opportunities and professional support to its male professionals.
For more detailed information and to contact a plaintiff attorney, please visit GoldmanGenderCase.com.