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Goldman Sachs Gender-|Bias Suit Turns a Corner

MANHATTAN (CN) - Goldman Sachs urged a magistrate judge on Wednesday not to certify a class action lawsuit accusing them of running a "boy's club," and requested the green light for an expert who chalked up the bank's gender wage gaps to its "extreme jobs."

The start of a two-day hearing marked a turning point in a gender discrimination lawsuit that three former Goldman employees filed against the megabank four years ago in federal court.

The lead plaintiff, H. Cristina Chen-Oster, alleges that her manager sexually assaulted her, while plaintiff Shanna Orlich claims her manager hired female escorts "wearing short black skirts, strapless tops, and Santa hats" for a holiday party.

Although Goldman Sachs failed to force the women into arbitration three years ago, the bank tried in court today to fend off the certification of a class action. The bank also hopes to disqualify their adversaries' experts, while leaving its own standing.

In a 92-page report, Purdue University Professor Michael Campion - a Goldman Sachs expert - floated the idea that Goldman's female staffers might have been paid less because of their alleged distaste for "extreme jobs."

Campion wrote that a Harvard Business Review article coined this phrase to describe jobs with "long work hours, responsibility for profit and loss, a fast-paced work environment, events outside of regular work hours, and related features common to Goldman Sachs."

He stated in his report that "research shows that women may be slightly less competitive on average in such extreme jobs."

But plaintiffs' attorney Rachel Gemen, of the firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, slammed that explanation as having "no scientific credibility."

"Given the self-selection of the women who choose to work at Goldman, Dr. Campion's theory is nonsensical on its face," Geman replied in a motion to strike the "extreme jobs" thesis.

However, Goldman Sachs also attacked the women's expert, University of Denver professor Wayne Cascio - putting Gemen on the defensive in proceedings before U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis.

Goldman's lawyer, Barbara Brown, played a videotaped deposition of Cascio from Nov. 14, 2013. And while Cascio's report faulted Goldman's systems for failing to meet "basic standards," he appeared in the footage to stop short of saying that these defects caused the wage gaps.

Gemen countered that Cascio avoided such a sweeping conclusion because he is "a sophisticated scientist."

"No one expert has to be the soup-to-nuts causation expert," she added. "He is not a statistician, nor does he have to be."

Francis did not rule on the motions, and arguments will move on to different experts on Thursday.

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