Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Goldman Sachs is facing a class-action suit, Zola raises a triple-digit round, and Kim Kardashian asks the White House for a favor. May the 4th be with you.
• Goldman will get its day in court. A gender discrimination case against Goldman Sachs has finally won class-action status. Three plaintiffs will represent as many as 2,300 current and former employees at the company who believe they have been treated unfairly because of their gender. This Bloomberg piece dives into the backstory of one of the three: Cristina Chen-Olster, who originally filed suit against the investment bank 13—13!—years ago. And that’s not out of the ordinary: “She represents the sobering reality of what it takes to challenge Wall Street’s problem with women.”
Chen-Olster alleges that she was sexually assaulted by a coworker in 1997, when she was about seven months into her job. It took her about two years to gather the courage to tell HR, and even though she didn’t “make a big deal of it” (as her boss at the time advised), she says her career at the firm went downhill regardless. According to Bloomberg: “Some job responsibilities were siphoned off, and a promising new market in distressed debt was handed to a man she’d trained. Her performance reviews, which helped determine her pay, were assigned to distant colleagues who couldn’t provide meaningful assessments. The man who she says assaulted her—who ranked beneath her at the time—was promoted to managing director, then partner, winning entree into one of Wall Street’s most elite, lucrative, and influential groups. In her eight years at the firm, Chen-Oster never rose above vice president.”
The final straw came in 2004 when Chen-Olster came back from maternity leave to find that her desk had been moved to an area where executive assistants—all women—were seated. “It was such a visceral, visual representation of how little Goldman cared about my career,” she tells Bloomberg. A few months later, she filed a complaint with the EEOC; it took five years for the Commission to dismiss her case—and grant her the right to go to court. In 2010, two other women—Lisa Parisi, a former Goldman managing director, and Shanna Orlich, an associate—also filed suits against the investment bank. They teamed up with Chen-Olster with the intention of turning their individual issues into a class action on behalf of the bank’s women. “They alleged Goldman allowed managers, almost all men, to make biased pay and promotion decisions, with the result that women were systematically denied the opportunities they deserved.” (A spokesperson for the bank says there was no discrimination.)
After eight years of legal setbacks—thanks in part to “Goldman’s ferocious defense”—the case could go to trial next year. While that’s good news, to be sure, the sheer time and energy necessary to bring such cases to court could do more to dissuade women than to embolden them. Bloomberg says it well: “In an industry adept at keeping embarrassing details quiet, with a culture that fetishizes secrecy and loyalty, the question isn’t why so few women speak up. It’s why any speak up at all.”
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Weddings from A to Zola. Wedding registry startup Zola has raised a $100 million series D round. Founder and CEO Shan-Lyn Ma says she plans to use the funds to build the site out as the go-to stop in the highly lucrative wedding planning industry. Among the well-known investors this round are Comcast Ventures, NBCUniversal, and Goldman Sachs Investment Partners.
• Greco says good-bye. Suzanne Greco is stepping down as CEO of sandwich chain Subway, she announced Wednesday. She took the helm of the privately-owned chain in 2015 after the death of her older brother, former CEO Fred DeLuca. The 60-year-old has been with the company since 1973 and will retire at the end of June, at which point she will become a senior adviser.
• Your excuse not to study. Researchers at Ohio State University sent out over 2,000 dummy resumes to test the relationship between academic success and job market success (which they measured via callbacks). While high-achieving men fared better than their slacker counterparts, the same trend did not hold for women. In fact, female straight-A students were the worst off among all the groups (all men—including those with the worst grades, and women with worse grades than theirs). The study’s author suggests that applicants are likely being judged based on traditional gender stereotypes, rather than on competence. “Employers value competence and commitment among men applicants, but instead privilege women applicants who are perceived as likable,” she writes. And girls with good grades can’t possibly be likable!
• It’s about time. The Boston Marathon announced yesterday it would award prize money to female runners. While that seems like a “duh,” this wasn’t always the case: the fifth-place finisher this year didn’t receive a prize (she would have gotten $15,000 if she were male). The difference is due to a quirky rule: In order to be eligible for prize money as a Boston Marathon runner, a woman had to qualify for the “elite women’s start,” a professional-level starting group. (Men had no such requirement.)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• E&Y says enough. Ernst & Young has reached a settlement with Jessica Casuccone, a tax partner who alleged that John Martinkat, another of the company’s partners, sexually harassed and assaulted her in 2015. Casucci said in the complaint that she was “terrified, upset and deeply offended” and that EY took little or no action against Martinkat when she reported the incident to the firm in 2016.
Wall Street Journal
• Kim wants klemency. Kim Kardashian West is in conversations with President Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner about a pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, a 62-year-old serving a life sentence for a nonviolent drug offense. West has enlisted her lawyers to advocate for Johnson’s release and hopes Kushner, a criminal justice reform advocate, can help convince his father-in-law to issue a presidential pardon or clemency.
• Where the consent convo began. The NYT heads to Antioch College, where in 1990 students pioneered the first affirmative sexual consent policy,—now called the Sexual Offense Prevention Policy (SOPP). The policy, which requires clear, verbal consent before proceeding to any new level of intimacy, was mocked by much of the rest of the world when it was first created. Now, most campuses across the country have similar policies in place.
New York Times