Goldman Sachs recently paid $215 million to settle a 13-year class action lawsuit by 2,800 female associates and vice presidents that claimed women were discriminated against when it came to pay, performance evaluations and promotions. But settlements do not necessarily equate to lessons learned, underlines Olivarius.
“That amount of settlement is chump change for a financial service business like Goldman Sachs,” she says. “It’s an easy way out, where they pay virtually no money after they stalled, procrastinated and prolonged the pain for the women.”
However, one case stood out to Olivarius as a potential wake-up call to employers: the recent sex discrimination case against Omni Hotels. Sarah Lindsley, who worked at Omni for 16 years, claimed she and other women faced discrepancies in pay and promotions because of their gender. On top of that, the company’s “boy’s club” culture encouraged sexual harassment against women workers. In March, the jury ultimately awarded Lindsley $25.1 million after an eight-year-long battle: $100,000 for suffering and mental anguish and $25 million in punitive damages. Olivarius served as an adviser to attorneys working on the case.
“Omni doesn’t have to actually pay that much because of caps on what somebody can receive,” says Olivarius. “But the jury sent a clear message: What Omni did was wrong in all shapes and forms, and it had to be stopped.”
If you feel discriminated against at your office…
- Contact us with your personal email address – work emails are technically owned by employers.
- Start collecting useful information such as date, time, and what you saw/ experienced – sometimes, evidence stored on companies’ platforms could disappear.
- Send a written complaint to HR and save it for the record.
People say, ‘Don’t put your name out there, you’ll never have a future.’ But the fact is most of the women I have represented have won money. They are hired back if they want to be hired back. There are plenty of jobs out there for women who go forth with sexual harassment lawsuits and win them. People like winners.Dr. Ann Olivarius