Goldman Sachs Ordered To Produce Broad Range Of Internal Complaints Regarding Compensation In Class Action Gender Discrimination Case


The plaintiffs, former high-level female employees of Goldman Sachs who filed a putative class action in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleged class-wide gender discrimination and retaliation under Title VII and New York City law. The women claimed that their employer engaged in a pattern of compensating its female employees less than similarly situated or less qualified male employees and providing better business opportunities to male employees. During discovery, counsel for the class members sought all internal complaints made by putative class members that relate to compensation, promotion, or performance evaluation, regardless of whether the complaints explicitly referred to gender discrimination.  In a relatively broad ruling, the magistrate judge ruled that Goldman Sachs must turn over internal complaints that have a conceivable relationship to gender discrimination, including internal complaints relating to compensation, promotion, and performance evaluations.  The magistrate judge did limit the required production to situations when the complaining female complained of her status as compared to someone else, as opposed to just complaining that she should be paid “more,” for example.  Financial services firms have been frequently targeted by plaintiffs' attorneys in wage and hour as well as gender discrimination cases; this case is another reminder for employers to take preventive measures, such as conducting internal compensation audits (preferably in a privileged format, if possible), to identify and resolve issues before they are raised in expensive and administratively burdensome lawsuits.