Goldman Women Say They Make Less Than Men Who Frequent Strip Clubs, Call Them 'Bimbos'

This article was originally posted on TheStreet Foundation Web site on July 1, 2014

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Even by the Wall Street standards of 20 years ago, the stuff recently revealed in the sex discrimination case brought against Goldman Sachs (GS) by H. Christina Chen-Oster and her co-plaintiffs would have been astonishing.

There are the strip clubs. The guys who organize departmental golf games and don't invite the women. The liberal use of the word "bimbo" to describe Goldman women, many of whom graduate from the same Ivy League schools the men do. And, of course, the very discouraging numbers about pay and promotion.

But the biggest deal about Chen-Oster's brief filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York court on July 1 seeking class-action status is the redactions. Because even when women and their lawyers fight bitter battles to get their hands on important documents that expose discrimination, companies always seem to find a way to keep the public from hearing about the worst stuff.

That's not to say the 58-page Memorandum in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification doesn't give Goldman a big, fat black eye, because it does.

In one citation, Goldman's head of global leadership and diversity comments that an internal study of employee attitudes had "appalling" results on the issue of gender differences. In another, an internal document maps out "Talking Points for Managing Maternity Leave," and concedes that Goldman has "limited experience" managing professionals who get pregnant and that "we are not very good at it."

It's, of course, important to acknowledge that while Goldman's internal documents speak for themselves, specific allegations by the women have not been proven. And that Goldman, which will file a response to the brief sometime over the next week, denies the allegations.

"This is a normal and anticipated procedural step for any proposed class-action lawsuit and does not change the case's lack of merit," said Goldman spokesman David Wells in an emailed statement. Well, fair enough on the denial part, David. But there was nothing "normal" about the pay and promotion revelations that came from Goldman's own statistics.

Some background:

Along with two other women, Chen-Oster sued Goldman in 2010, saying that a male colleague made 50% more than she did even though she was a bigger revenue producer. She also said she was "sexually assaulted by a married male colleague" after a Goldman dinner one evening and that her career was set back after she reported it. The women, who sought class-action status, said Goldman pays men more than women.

The case has been winding its way through the court since then, reaching an important point last October. That's when U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis said that Goldman had to turn over internal complaints that might be related to discrimination against women in its investment banking, investment management, merchant banking and securities divisions.

Goldman had called it a "fishing expedition" when the women asked to see the internal complaints, but, lo and behold, 133 complaints popped up after the judge said to cough up the evidence.

But it's the stuff in those complaints that make up most of the thick black lines that run through long sections of the women's July 1 brief.

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