Goldman Sachs vs Sonia Pereiro-Mendez: Bank signs deal over £2m sex discrimination claim

Adam Hignett
Goldman payout: Sonia Pereiro-Mendez

US investment bank Goldman Sachs yesterday agreed an out-of- court settlement with London-based analyst Sonia Pereiro-Mendez who had claimed that its sex discrimination had cost her almost £2m in bonuses.

Details of the payout were not disclosed after the agreement was struck just hours after it was due to go into its second day. The case had formally started on Friday.
Richard Leiper, representing Pereiro-Mendez, said the parties “had resolved the claim”.
A spokesman for Goldman said: “We are pleased this matter is resolved” and confirmed Pereiro-Mendez had left the bank.
Pereiro-Mendez, claims she began being marginalised from 2010, when she was excluded from meetings and client dinners, and this discrimination led her to receive bonuses which denied her the five per cent of profits to which she was entitled. She said her 2011 pay ought to have been £910,000 above the £200,000 in bonus and £250,000 in base salary she was paid. In 2013 and 2014 she was entitled to bonuses totalling £925,000 above what she received.
She said in 2012, after she announced her pregnancy, her base pay was cut to £192,000 with no bonus.
Pereiro-Mendez said she had been “publicly undermined” and “mocked” by her then-manager who also made “overtly sexist comments” which amounted to sexual discrimination and his attitude worsened after he was promoted to managing director.
Goldman claimed Pereiro-Mendez did not merit the bonuses she sought because her performance in 2010 was ranked in the lowest 25 per cent of employees and the lowest 10 per cent in 2011 and 2013.
Pereiro-Mendez, sued Goldman two months ago and was due to give evidence yesterday to the Central London Employment Tribunal but she did not appear and Judge Andrew Glennie formally dismissed her claim at lunchtime.
Howard Hymanson, discrimination specialist and partner at Harbottle & Lewis, said: “The stakes are always high on both sides. This one has obviously gone to the wire.”



■ Gill Switalski sought £19m damages from F&C Asset Management for sex discrimination after her senior manager criticised her for choosing a flexible working pattern. She needed to care for her two sons – one with cerebral palsy and one with Asperger’s. She claimed she had been bullied and discriminated against because she was a woman. After a two year legal battle F&C management settled out of court.
■ Svetlana Lokhova was awarded £3.1m earlier this month after she complained of harassment and discrimination at Russian bank Sberbank CIB. An employment tribunal ruled in her favour after hearing colleagues in the London office had called her “Miss Bonkers” and she had been falsely accused of being a cocaine addict.
■ Julie Bower took Schroder Securities to court in 2002 claiming that her male counterparts were given much bigger bonuses. She won her case and received £1.4m.
The tribunal ruled that her bonus of £25,000, which was later increased to £50,000, was “picked from the air”. Male analysts were each paid bonuses of up to £650,000.


■ Former high-flying banker Stephanie Villalba lost a £7.5m sex discrimination case against investment bank Merrill Lynch in 2004, and later failed in her appeal over equal pay and claims of victimisation. Villalba had accused the bank of discriminatory and bullying treatment because of her sex when she was fired after a 17-year career. Villalba won her claim for unfair dismissal, which would have meant an award only up to £55,000.
■ City trader Katharina Tofeji lost her £1.3m compensation claim against BNP Paribas after alleging a sexist work culture forced her out of her job. Tofeji claimed BNP Paribas refused to grant her a four-day working week following maternity leave. But an employment tribunal ruled she was not wrongfully dismissed.

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