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Sex Discrimination on Wall Street and in New York Q&A

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for above-the-bar-logo-no12.jpgQ: I am a female investment banker at Goldman Sachs. Although I have been generating more revenue than my male colleagues and doing a better job than most of them, they are getting more pay, receive better bonuses and are promoted. What can I do?

Our Sex Discrimination Attorneys at Villanueva and Sanchala have been following gender discrimination lawsuits on Wall Street for many years going to back to the outrageous days of Boom Boom Room at Smith Barney and well before. Like you, many women working on Wall Street have been victims of gender discrimination. In fact, just recently, three former female employees filed a complaint against Goldman Sachs (“Goldman”) alleging gender discrimination. The women are seeking class status on behalf of all former and current female managing directors, vice presidents, and associates over the past 6 years.

The complaint alleges that Goldman pays its female employees less at all levels compared to males with the same positions and similar job duties. It also alleges discrimination in promotions, business opportunities, as well as uneven distribution of benefits favoring male employees. The female employees have also alleged that Goldman gives its managers discretion to assign responsibilities, accounts and supervise associates. Since a great majority of the managers are males, this ends up disproportionately benefiting the males.

Plaintiff, H. Christine Chen-Oster, who became a vice-president, was bringing in more revenue than her male colleague but he was paid 50% more than her. To add insult to injury, another male colleague groped her after an outing at a New York City topless bar. After she complained of the incident, she was further penalized while he was promoted. Plaintiff, Shanna Ortich, who has a combined a JD/MBA from Columbia University, has alleged that she was assigned clerical work and a senior analyst asked her to set up his blackberry and to answer calls from his wife.

Goldman is one of the largest global investment banking, securities and investment management firms. In 2009, its revenue totaled $45 billion. A Goldman representative has responded that the lawsuit is without merit and that “People are critical to our business, and we make extraordinary efforts to recruit, develop and retain outstanding women professionals.” However, according to Goldman’s own data, only 29% of its vice-president’s are females, 17% are managing directors, and only 14% are partners.

Goldman is not the only Wall Street firm to be accused of gender discrimination in the past decade. In fact, Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, among others, have also been accused of discrimination against its female employees. In 2004, Morgan Stanley settled two gender discrimination suits, in 2004 and 2007, for over $100 million. Even with all the lawsuits and millions in settlements, very little has changed regarding the treatment of women on Wall Street. This pattern of overlooking women and promoting and paying males more is part of the Wall Street culture. It is very important that you document any type of discriminatory conduct towards you. If you are a female working at a Wall Street financial company or any company, and feel that you have been discriminated against because of your gender, call our experienced New York, New Jersey and Connecticut Gender Discrimination Attorneys at (800) 893-9645 to discuss your possible case and help you protect your workplace rights.

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