Ex-Goldman Employee Must Arbitrate Her Claim of Sex Bias

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. persuaded a federal appeals court to rule that a female former managing director must pursue a gender discrimination lawsuit through arbitration rather than in court.

The New York-based panel yesterday ruled that Lisa Parisi, one of three women who sued the firm in 2010 claiming they were subjected to pay and promotion discrimination, can’t maintain her case in federal court. Her employment contract contained a clause requiring disputes to be resolved through arbitration.

Parisi’s lawyers argued their client had a right under federal law to press her claim Goldman Sachs has a pattern and practice of discriminating against managing directors who are women, and that such claims can only be litigated in the context of a class action, or group, case.

A lower court judge agreed, denying Goldman Sach’s request he order Parisi’s case to arbitration.

“Because we disagree that a substantive statutory right to pursue a pattern-or-practice claim exists, we reverse,” U.S. Circuit Judge Barrington Parker wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel. Joining him were Judges Gerard Lynch and Reena Raggi.

Enforcing Agreements

Citing U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the panel said the high court has consistently interpreted the Federal Arbitration Act as favoring the enforcement of such agreements, “even when the claims at issue are federal statutory claims,” absent some contrary congressional command.

The appeals court said Parisi may present to the arbitrators any evidence of discriminatory practices or policies at Goldman Sachs that affected her employment.

Adam Klein, an attorney for Parisi, didn’t immediately reply yesterday to a telephone message seeking comment on the court’s ruling. Michael DuVally, a spokesman for Goldman Sachs, in an e-mail message said the firm is pleased with the court’s decision.

The case is Parisi v. Goldman Sachs & Co., U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals (Manhattan).

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