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Goldman accused of ‘boys club’ atmosphere

Adam Jeffery | CNBC

Goldman Sachs has been accused by two former female employees of gender discrimination and fostering a "boys club" atmosphere where sexualization of women was endorsed and celebrated.

"Goldman's discriminatory processes do not arise in a vacuum, but instead are shaped by a common culture of gender stereotyping and hostility towards women at the firm," the plaintiffs alleged in a New York court filing on Tuesday.

The plaintiffs are former vice-president Christina Chen-Oster and former associate Shanna Orlich who on Tuesday filed a brief seeking class-action status for a case that began four years ago and has already seen several twists.

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Ms Chen-Oster worked at Goldman Sachs from 1997 to 2005 while Ms Orlich worked at the bank during the summer of 2006 and from July 2007 to November 2008.

"This is a normal and anticipated procedural step for any proposed class-action lawsuit and does not change the case's lack of merit," a Goldman Sachs spokesman said in a statement.

The plaintiffs allege in the filing that the bank pays its female vice-presidents, on average, 21 percent less than comparable male vice-presidents, and that it pays female associates, on average, 8 percent less than comparable male associates.

The bank is likely to challenge the statistical evidence presented in the filing on the basis that it does not compare similar employees or take the proper factors into account, a person familiar with the case said.

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The filing alleges that work events were held at strip clubs, and in 2005, the bank "cautioned new associates in their orientation that while clients will ask to go to strip clubs, they should merely not 'expense' that entertainment".

In the filing, Ms Orlich said she was denied opportunities to work as a trader, while a male colleague with no more experience was given a trading job. She alleged that senior managers challenged him to do push-ups on the trading floor due to his background in the Marine Corps.

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The law firms Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein and Outten & Golden serve as co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs.

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