Goldman Sachs Group Inc. moved a step forward in winning the dismissal of a discrimination lawsuit brought by a group of women claiming they didn’t get paid or promoted like their male counterparts.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis in Manhattan said Tuesday that the claims in the suit, filed in 2010 by two women seeking to represent female associates and vice presidents in three Goldman Sachs divisions, are too different from one another to be considered in a single class action. The magistrate judge called the decision a “close” call.
Francis’s recommendation will go to U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres, who will make the final decision. Goldman Sachs denies discriminating against women.
A decision to certify a class would greatly increase the potential damages against Goldman Sachs if it’s later found liable. If a class isn’t certified, the plaintiffs will have to sue individually or in small groups.
“We are pleased that the court concluded that this case is not appropriate for class-action treatment,” Michael Duvally, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
Adam Klein, a lawyer for the women, didn’t immediately respond to phone messages after regular business hours seeking comment on the decision.
In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court limited the ability of employees to sue as a group in a gender-bias case against Wal- Mart Stores Inc. The justices in that case said lawyers for the women failed to prove the retailer had a nationwide policy that led to gender discrimination.
The two plaintiffs suing Goldman Sachs, Cristina Chen-Oster and Shanna Orlich, seek to represent all women associates and vice presidents who worked in the firm’s investment banking, investment management and securities divisions in the U.S. since 2004 and in New York since 2002.
The women who filed the lawsuit allege Goldman Sachs has a “culture of discrimination” and maintains an atmosphere that includes client trips to strip clubs.
Chen-Oster and Orlich claim women vice presidents earned 21 percent less than male colleagues and that female associates made 8 percent less. About 23 percent fewer female vice presidents were promoted to managing director than males, they said.
The case is Chen-Oster v. Goldman Sachs & Co., 10-cv-06950, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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