Updated September 15, 2021
In Chen-Oster v. Goldman Sachs, Goldman Sachs won a major victory that will compel at least a third, and potentially more than half, of a certified class of women to arbitrate their claims in a closely watched employment class action claiming that Goldman discriminated against class members in evaluations and promotions. In March 2020, Magistrate Judge Robert W. Lehrburger of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the arbitration clauses in the majority of 1,850 agreements that class members had signed were enforceable, holding that Goldman Sachs repeatedly asserted its right to arbitrate the claims and that plaintiffs had failed to present any evidence of coercion or to otherwise effectively challenge the validity of the agreements. When the widespread use of arbitration among financial firms is being challenged, this decision reinforces the enforceability of such agreements entered into by sophisticated professionals on Wall Street.
On September 15, 2021, U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres of the Southern District of New York upheld the magistrate judge’s ruling in all respects, and affirmed his finding that plaintiffs had presented no evidence of deceptive conduct or coercion, or that Goldman Sachs imposed arbitration without agreement or additional consideration.
The S&C team is led by Bob Giuffra, who argued the motion, Hilary Williams, Amanda Flug Davidoff and Ann-Elizabeth Ostrager.