Goldman Sachs Sued for Putting Women on the “Mommy Track”

A former vice president of the investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. sued the Wall Street bank because, the complaint alleges, it consigned her to a “mommy track” that ultimately led to her firing while she was on maternity leave.

According to the lawsuit, Charlotte Hanna joined Goldman in 1998 as an associate, was promoted to vice president two years later, and received strong praise for her work. Upon returning from her first maternity leave in February 2005, Hanna opted to return, temporarily, on a part-time basis. She did not anticipate that she would hit a “glass ceiling” with respect to pay and advancement. But that is exactly what she encountered. The lawsuit alleges that she was systematically excluded from operations and social functions and eventually demoted. It also says that Ms. Hanna decided to take the “off-ramp” provided by the firm to devote more time to her children and there was no “on-ramp” that enabled her to return to full-time employment.

Ms. Hanna was selected for termination in 2009 as part of Goldman’s reduction in force. Ms. Hanna’s complaint says that 75 percent of those selected for termination in her group had recently taken maternity leave.

My firm has seen more gender and pregnancy discrimination cases since the economy began its downturn. Caregivers are particularly vulnerable when their company is looking to reduce its workforce. Managers who must designate which employees to downsize sometimes perceive that working mothers are expendable because of stereotypical assumptions — including that the women will not work as hard as men or that they will eventually leave the company to stay at home with their children. If you have been unfairly selected for termination because you are on or recently returned from maternity leave, you may have a claim for unlawful discrimination and should contact a knowledgeable, experienced New Jersey employment attorney.