Ex-Trade VP Sues Goldman Sachs for Disability Dismissal

October 1, 2009

A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. vice president and trader accused the firm of dismissing her last year because of a disability, according to a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday.

The lawsuit said Sarah Hindlian, a member of a proprietary trade idea generating unit, was diagnosed with a degenerative disc disease in November 2004. She had spinal surgery in 2007.

“Ms. Hindlian alleges that the firm, due to her disability and the firm’s regarding her as disabled, terminated her and discriminated against her in the terms and conditions of employment,” the lawsuit said.

A Goldman spokeswoman declined to comment.

Hindlian joined Goldman in July 2001 and was eventually promoted to vice president in 2005 in the Americas Trading Unit of the firm’s Franchise Risk Management Department, the court document said.

The lawsuit accused her supervisor, Ted Wang, of telling her on Oct. 31, 2007, “that she was not permitted to be sick any more.” It also said Wang in January 2008 offered Hindlian a promotion involving analyzing large block trades but after accepting, she never received the promised promotion.

She was told on April 3, 2008, a day before starting short term disability medical leave, by Wang and Managing Director Paul Russo that Goldman was cutting 10 percent of its workforce based on performance. Hindlian’s employment was to be terminated at the end of her medical leave.

Trading desk seats were not handicap-accessible for her, the lawsuit said.

Her back problems started in late 2004 and she “experience extreme pain” according to the lawsuit. “As a result, she was unable to walk. For three months in 2007, she was confined to a wheelchair.”

The lawsuit said Hindlian filed a charge of discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March this year, charging Goldman with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. She took the case to federal court “after exhausting her administrative remedies” under the Act.

She is seeking unspecified damages and a declaration that Goldman violated the ADA.

The case is Sarah E. Hindlian v Goldman Sachs 09-8308 in
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

(Reporting by Grant McCool, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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