The verdict in the Trump case was not the only court victory against sexism this week. Lawyers for women who worked in securities and investment banking positions at Goldman Sachs announced that the Wall Street giant has agreed to pay $215 million to settle a long-running gender discrimination case.
Some 2,800 current and former employees at Goldman will share in the settlement, which resolves a case first filed back in 2010. Along with the payout, the company will take steps to improve gender equity in pay and promotions.
For years, Goldman strenuously denied allegations that its personnel evaluation system systematically placed women at lower rankings than men, and it aggressively sought to reverse the certification of the class in 2018. Those efforts were unsuccessful, eventually resulting in the scheduling of a trial in June of this year. Trials are rare in discrimination class actions, since juries are thought to be more sympathetic to plaintiffs.
Goldman finally decided to give in, becoming the latest large company to settle a class action gender discrimination lawsuit. Other cases during the past two decades documented in Violation Tracker include the following:
- In 2022 Sterling Jewelers paid $175 million to settle litigation alleging that for years it had discriminated against tens of thousands of women in its pay and promotion practices.
- In 2010 drug giant Novartis paid $175 million to settle charges of gender discrimination, including pregnancy discrimination.
- In 2022 Google agreed to pay $118 million to settle class action litigation alleging it discriminated against women in its salary practices.
- In 2007 Morgan Stanley paid $46 million to a class of about 3,000 women to settle gender discrimination allegations.
- In 2018 the retail chain Family Dollar paid $45 million to more than 37,000 former and current managers who alleged they were paid less than their male counterparts. That case took nearly 15 years to get resolved.
- In 2004 Boeing paid more than $40 million to a class of female workers who alleged they were denied desirable job assignments, promotional opportunities, and management positions.
- In 2013 Merrill Lynch paid more than $38 million to a group of women employed as financial advisors who said they were discriminated against in pay and promotion.
- In 2014 United Airlines paid $36.5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company engaged in gender discrimination by requiring female flight attendants to weigh less than comparable male ones.
- In 2008 Smith Barney paid $33 million to women formerly employed as financial advisors who claimed they were paid less than their male counterparts.
- In 2011 Wells Fargo paid $32 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that its Wachovia Securities subsidiary gave female financial advisers fewer opportunities than their male co-workers with respect to promotions, assignments, signing bonuses and compensation.
What this list show is that gender discrimination has been an issue in a wide range of companies and occupations, but sexism has been especially problematic in the traditionally macho world of Wall Street. Now that perhaps the most elite firm in the industry has capitulated, the worst abuses may finally come to an end.