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Goldman Sachs paid $12 million to female partner to settle sexism complaint, Bloomberg reports

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Goldman Sachs paid more than $12 million to a former female partner to settle claims that senior executives created a hostile environment for women, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

Top executives, including CEO David Solomon, made vulgar or dismissive remarks about women at the firm, according to Bloomberg, which cited people with knowledge of the ex-partner’s complaint. The complaint alleged that women at Goldman were paid less than men and referred to in insulting ways, Bloomberg said, citing the anonymous sources.

Goldman management was “rattled” by the complaint and settled it two years ago to keep word of the claims from being made public, according to the news outlet. The female partner, who now works for a different employer, declined to comment to Bloomberg, which said it withheld her name in part because she never went public with her allegations.

Wall Street continues to deal with accusations that its hard-charging culture results in unfair treatment for female employees. Solomon, who took over from predecessor Lloyd Blankfein in 2018, faces a class action lawsuit alleging gender discrimination that could go to trial next year; Goldman has denied the claims and attempted to get the lawsuit dismissed. Earlier this year, an ex-Goldman managing director published a memoir detailing episodes of harassment over her 18-year career at the bank.

In public remarks, Solomon has said hiring and promoting more women and minorities were top priorities of his, and the company has publicized its efforts to boost the ranks of women at the bank.

Other male-dominated industries like tech and law have also dealt with accusations of systemic bias against women. In June, Alphabet subsidiary Google agreed to pay $118 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that the technology company had discriminated against thousands of female employees.

The incidents described by the Goldman partner allegedly happened in 2018 and 2019, and included male executives critiquing female employees’ bodies and assigning menial tasks to women, according to Bloomberg, which cited people with knowledge of the complaint. The partner rank is exceedingly difficult to achieve, and fewer than 1% of the firm’s employees have that title, which comes with enhanced compensation and other perks.

Top Goldman lawyer Kathy Ruemmler said in a statement to CNBC that the firm disputed the Bloomberg article. The New York-based bank declined to comment beyond its statement or answer questions about whether it had paid the $12 million settlement.  

“Bloomberg’s reporting contains factual errors, and we dispute this story,” Ruemmler said in the emailed statement. “Anyone who works with David knows his respect for women, and his long record of creating an inclusive and supportive environment for women.”

A Bloomberg spokeswoman had this response to Goldman’s comment: “We stand by our reporting.”

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