Former Goldman Sachs Exec Files Lawsuit Alleging Sexual Orientation Discrimination

By Douglas Lipsky

Goldman Sachs has been sued by a former gay executive who claims he was wrongfully terminated after complaining about discriminatory conduct by managers in what the lawsuit called a blatant act of retaliation. While the claim’s merit is unclear, this case highlights how LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace continues to be a problem, despite the fact that New York has some of the strongest legal protections against sexual orientation discrimination in the country.

The Backdrop

The former executive, who is openly gay and was a leader of the firm’s internal LGBTQ network, alleges his formal complaints about a discriminatory work environment led to his termination. The lawsuit also claims that a supervisor excluded him from a conference call for “sounding too gay.”

In 2018, the employee complained directly through internal channels that he had repeatedly been subjected to incidents of homophobia and discrimination. Soon after he complained, his performance review included significant, unwarranted criticisms, which were used to create a paper trail to substantiate his termination.

According to the lawsuit, the employee had been with the firm for eight years and had a proven track record of outstanding performance reviews. He worked in Goldman’s product strategy group, focusing on investments for individual and institutional investors. After starting with the firm as an analyst in 2010, he was promoted to vice president in 2016. 

Does Goldman Sachs Tolerate Sexual Orientation Discrimination?

A spokesman for the company said Goldman has a proven commitment to diversity and that the lawsuit is without merit. According to Goldman’s 2018 partners’ report, 5 percent of partners identified as LGBTQ. Since 2017, Goldman has asked job candidates whether they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender during the application process, using a similar method for other demographic data requested by the EEOC (race, ethnicity, gender, etc.). The information is not included in the hiring process and is simply used by Goldman to monitor its workforce diversity. Finally, Goldman received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. Nonetheless, the lawsuit claims these initiatives only give lip service to diversity.

What Can Be Done About LGBTQ Discrimination?

Both the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law include strong protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. There continue to be issues on Wall Street related to the treatment of LGBTQ workers, however.

The best way for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals to enforce their rights is to consult the experienced employment discrimination attorneys at Lipsky Lowe LLP.

About the Author
Douglas Lipsky is a co-founding partner of Lipsky Lowe LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of employment law, including discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, unpaid overtime, and unpaid tips. He also represents clients in complex wage and hour claims, including collective actions under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and class actions under the laws of many different states. If you have questions about this article, contact Douglas today.