By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK, March 21 Goldman Sachs Group Inc
on Thursday won a U.S. court order allowing it to send a
former employee's gender discrimination claim to arbitration,
rather than being forced to defend against her claims in a class
In ruling for Goldman, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
in New York reversed a lower court's 2011 ruling denying the
Wall Street bank's motion to compel arbitration in the case of
Lisa Parisi, a former managing director.
The case has been closely watched by employers seeking to
avoid costly class action lawsuits and instead require
individuals to pursue cases alone in private arbitrations.
"We see no reason to deviate from the liberal federal policy
in favor of arbitration and conclude that the district court
erred in denying the motion to compel arbitration," Circuit
Judge Barrington Parker wrote for the three-judge panel.
Parisi and two other female former Goldman employees sued
the bank in 2010, accusing it of a pattern of discrimination
against female managing directors, vice presidents and
Adam Klein, a lawyer for the women at Outten & Golden, said
he disagreed with the decision, but said it would have "limited
impact" on the underlying case.
Parisi had signed an employment agreement that contained an
arbitration clause when she was promoted to managing director in
The two other plaintiffs, former vice president Christina
Chen-Oster and former associate Shanna Orlich, did not sign
arbitration agreements and are not affected by the ruling, Klein
A Goldman spokesman had no immediate comment.
Parisi may now pursue her claims with the Financial Industry
Regulatory Authority or the American Arbitration Association.
The case followed a series of recent U.S. Supreme Court
decisions making it easier for companies to force plaintiffs
seeking to pursue class-action litigation to instead go
individually into arbitration.
Goldman's appeal was supported by briefs from the U.S.
Chamber of Commerce and the Securities Industry and Financial
Markets Association. Parisi had support from the NAACP Legal
Defense and Education Fund and the National Women's Law Center.
"This whole area is really developing and there is really
little circuit authority on it," Klein said.
Parisi was fired in 2008, and Goldman moved to enforce the
arbitration clause in her employment agreement after the women
sued in 2010.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis in Manhattan ruled for
Parisi in 2011, and U.S. District Judge Leonard Sand later
upheld that ruling.
Writing for the 2nd Circuit, Parker said the court agreed
with Goldman that private plaintiffs like Parisi had no
substantive right to sue in court over a pattern or practice of
discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
As a result, "there can be no entitlement to the ancillary
class action procedural mechanism," Parker wrote.
The case is Parisi v. Goldman Sachs & Co, 2nd U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals, No. 11-5229.