Goldman Hit with Gender Bias Complaint

September 15, 2010 ( – Three women who claimed they were examples of a systemic gender bias problem at Goldman Sachs have sued the Wall Street firm in federal court alleging discrimination in pay and promotional opportunities.

A Reuters news report said the suit charges that managers at the firm have few limits on their ability to assign accounts and job tasks and supply administrative support and that that has produced “unchecked gender bias” that has led to just 14% of partners being women, 17% of manager directors being female, and 29% of vice presidents being female.

“Goldman Sachs has intentionally implemented these companywide policies and practices in order to pay their male employees more money than their female counterparts, and to promote them more frequently,” the suit declared.

The suit requests class action status to represent women who have worked at the firm in the last six years as managing directors, vice presidents, and associates.

According to the news report, Lisa Parisi alleged she was significantly underpaid compared with male colleagues, including a 60% drop from 2005 to 2007, and had investments taken away from her despite her skill in stock picking. Cristina Chen-Oster alleged she was repeatedly shunted to lower-paying and lower-priority jobs, and had her accounts taken away after she returned from a maternity leave.

Chen-Oster also said that after a dinner at a topless bar to celebrate a colleague’s promotion, an event that all employees in her group were encouraged to attend, a male colleague attempted a sexual act with her. She also contended she was subjected to a sexually charged e-mail by a male colleague that made fun of her Chinese heritage.

According to Reuters, Chen-Oster resigned from Goldman after eight years in 2005, while. Parisi’s and Shanna Orlich’s jobs were terminated in 2008 after they had worked there since 2001 and 2006, respectively.

Goldman denied the allegations in comments to Reuters. “This suit is without merit,” spokesman Lucas van Praag said in an e-mail. “People are critical to our business, and we make extraordinary efforts to recruit, develop, and retain outstanding women professionals.”

The lawsuit is here.