Goldman Sachs can’t compel arbitration in discrimination suit

Posted on: July 22nd, 2011 by Steve Larson

A federal judge refused to reconsider Goldman Sachs’ bid to compel individual arbitration against one of the lead plaintiffs in a putative class action lawsuit claiming the bank subscribes to an “outdated corporate culture” of bias against women.

H. Cristina Chen-Oster, Lisa Parisi, and Shanna Orlich filed the class action on September 16, 2010, in a 42-page complaint with dozens of redacted exhibits.

In November, Goldman Sachs moved to stay Ms Parisi’s claims, and compel her to arbitrate her claims individually.

Hired in August 2001 as vice president in the firm’s asset management division, Ms. Parisi says Goldman Sachs gave her harsher reviews, paid her less and passed her over for promotions more regularly than her male colleagues.

One of her co-plaintiffs, Ms. Chen-Oster, said her manager sexually assaulted her, while the other, Ms. Orlich, claimed her manager hired female escorts “wearing short black skirts, strapless tops and Santa hats” to a holiday party.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis, IV refused the motion to stay and arbitrate Ms. Parisi’s claims in late April, 2011.  On July 7, 2011, he rejected Goldman Sachs’ request for him to rehear their arguments.

According to the class action complaint, the women represented in management positions at Goldman Sachs “dwindles as the level of management rises — from Associates, to Vice Presidents, to Managing Directors, to Partners, and finally to the firm’s management committee and executive officers.”

They say that the bank’s 2009 figures show that women made up only 29% of the firm’s vice presidents and 17% of managing directors.

“Of its nine executive officers, only a single one is female; she co-heads the Legal Department with the firm’s other General Counsel, a man,” the complaint says.