Female Goldman Sachs employees seek class action alleging ‘boys club’

An ongoing gender discrimination lawsuit against Goldman Sachs filed four years ago by three former female employees now has the support of several additional former employees who allege the financial giant has a “boy’s club” atmosphere where women are mocked and excluded by their male colleagues.

The group is seeking class action status from a federal judge in Manhattan in a suit that looks to sue Goldman (GS) on behalf of current and former employees at the bank whose tenures stretch as far back as July 2002. Several former employees filed documents on Tuesday supporting class certification of the lawsuit, which accuses Goldman of hosting an environment that is “hostile to women.”

In a statement sent to multiple news outlets, a Goldman spokesman said the filings Tuesday were not a surprise and that they “lack merit.”

One former vice president in the bank’s securities division, Denise Shelley, wrote in her letter to the court that female employees at Goldman were often hired based on their attractiveness and then asked to pitch sales to clients only to later have their intelligence mocked by male colleagues. Shelley says such women were referred to as “bimbos” by male colleagues, and she remembers one time when a new female hire was mocked for having been a beauty pageant winner.

“The culture that I experienced at Goldman Sachs sexualized women in a way that made it difficult for us to be taken seriously as professional peers and diminished our ability to be fairly reviewed, compensated, and promoted in comparison to our male peers,” Shelley wrote in a court filing.

She also claims that women were often excluded from social events outside of work and that, after a rare occasion where she did join her male colleagues at a bar, she was later called a “party girl” by a managing director at the bank.

Another vice president and trader, Allison Gamba, asserts in her own court filing supporting class certification that Goldman frequently passed her over for promotions that went instead to male colleagues with less impressive qualifications than her own. Gamba also accuses the bank of holding her pregnancies and motherhood against her by ceasing to even nominate her for promotion once she started having children.

Gamba says she believes that “Goldman Sachs is incapable of reforming itself to treat its female employees equally,” and that women at the bank are often unwilling to formally complain about sexual discrimination and harassment because they fear it will damage their careers.

In addition to seeking certification as a class action, the suit seeks unspecified damages as well as court-imposed injunctions that would force Goldman to take action to eliminate gender bias at the bank.

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