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Goldman Forced To Reveal Sex Discrimination Complaints

Law360.com—Kat Greene

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was ordered Tuesday to disclose gender discrimination complaints that women working in its four revenue-generating departments had filed, in a victory for the putative class in a New York federal suit alleging the investment firm discriminated against women.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV ordered Goldman to hand over any complaints regarding compensation, promotions or performance evaluations in which a female employee compares herself or a female colleague to one or more male colleagues, representing the latest dig at Goldman in a potential class action that claims the company's culture favors males and is outdated.

Lead plaintiff Christina Chen-Oster asked the court to force Goldman to disclose all potential gender discrimination complaints out of its revenue-generating divisions — securities, investment banking, merchant banking and investment management — regardless of whether those employees had stepped forward to become part of the suit.

“These complaints are reasonably likely to lead to additional evidence pertinent to the claims of the putative class employees, and Goldman Sachs has not argued that producing these complaints from the same divisions already under examination would be unreasonably burdensome,” Judge Francis wrote Tuesday.

Goldman unsuccessfully argued it had already disclosed the complaints filed by the putative class members, and that no other disclosure would be necessary.

But the complaints could prove the alleged companywide culture of discrimination, the plaintiffs said.

“We appreciate the court’s careful consideration of the issues, and we will continue to pursue all reasonable channels to seek justice for the women at Goldman Sachs,” Chen-Oster's attorney Kelly Dermody told Law360 on Tuesday.

Chen-Oster, along with Shanna Orlich and Lisa Parisi, filed the suit against Goldman in September 2010, alleging the investment firm paid female employees less than their male co-workers, gave them fewer promotions, and engaged in a slew of discriminatory practices that were “part and parcel of an outdated corporate culture.”

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In November 2011, U.S. District Judge Leonard B. Sand denied Goldman's motion to stay the proposed class action and compel arbitration of plaintiff Lisa Parisi's individual claims because her employment agreement with the financial firm included an arbitration clause.

Then, in January 2012, Judge Sand sunk Goldman’s second attempt to toss class claims in a sex discrimination suit brought by female former employees, ruling the case should proceed as a proposed class action.

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The plaintiffs are represented by Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP and Outten & Golden LLP.

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The case is Chen-Oster et al. v. Goldman Sachs & Co. et al., case number 1:10-cv-06950, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.