Goldman Sachs ‘Boy’s Club’ Accused of Mocking Women

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was accused of widespread gender discrimination and a “boy’s club” atmosphere that included bouts of binge drinking and trips to strip clubs, as two former female employees seek to expand their lawsuit against the firm with new evidence.

The women asked a federal judge in Manhattan today to let them sue on behalf of current and former female associates and vice presidents. Support for their claims includes statements of former Goldman Sachs employees, expert statistical analyses and evidence on earnings and promotions from the firm’s own records, they said in a court filing.

“Women report a ‘boy’s club’ atmosphere, where binge drinking is common and women are either sexualized or ignored,” according to the filing.

The two women, H. Cristina Chen-Oster and Shanna Orlich, sued in 2010 and are seeking to broaden the case to include more than a decade of claimed discrimination at Goldman Sachs. A decision by U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres to allow the women to sue as a class would increase the risk to Goldman Sachs.

In the lawsuit, filed in 2010, the women seek unspecified damages and an order requiring Goldman Sachs to fix the alleged gender bias at the firm.

Salaries, Promotions

Female vice presidents earned 21 percent less than men and female associates made 8 percent less, the former employees claimed. About 23 percent fewer female vice presidents were promoted to managing director of the New York-based bank relative to their male counterparts, they said.

Goldman Sachs has denied the women’s claims and is fighting the case.

“This is a normal and anticipated procedural step for any proposed class action lawsuit and does not change the case’s lack of merit,” David Wells, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, said today in an e-mailed statement.

Chen-Oster and Orlich are seeking to persuade Torres that their claims are sufficiently similar to those of other Goldman Sachs women so they can represent them in a single case.

They’re asking Torres to certify a class of female associates and vice presidents who worked for Goldman Sachs in the U.S. in its investment banking, investment management and securities divisions beginning Sept. 10, 2004. The start date for employees who worked in New York City would be July 7, 2002.

Denise Shelley, a vice president who left the firm in 2009, said in a court filing that men at Goldman Sachs repeatedly called women “bimbos,” mocked a new hire who had won a beauty pageant and took clients to strip clubs. Shelley said in the filing that she sat on the steering committee of the firm’s network for women and, after joining colleagues at a bar, was called a “party girl” by a managing director.

The case is Chen-Oster v. Goldman Sachs & Co., 10-cv-06950, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

(Updates with allegation in third paragraph.)
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