Goldman Sachs settles discrimination case with employee fired after being told ‘he sounded too gay’

Parents question how their son can 'possibly know' he's gay. Yes, really

Goldman Sachs has reached a settlement with a former vice president who says he was fired after being told he “sounded too gay”.

William Littleton was fired in 2019 after eight years of positive performance reviews at the banking giant. He filed a lawsuit claiming that he had been discriminated against on the basis of his sexual orientation and subjected to homophobic retaliation.

The court papers alleged numerous examples of discrimination, including a time when he was excluded from a client call because his voice “sounded too gay”.

In another incident, Littleton said he was asked by a supervisor: “What’s wrong with you? Do you act this way because you’re gay?”

When he complained about his colleagues’ repeated discrimination, he was fired.

The complaint, filed in New York state court, claims that “despite years of ‘outstanding’ performance reviews filled with near-endless praise regarding Mr Littleton’s bright future at the Bank, he was abruptly fired by those who he complained engaged in discriminatory conduct.”

Goldman Sachs argued Littleton was fired because of his job performance, not his orientation. The bank said he Littleton held a “relatively junior position” and had become uninterested in the work.

This, they said, made him the subject of complaints from other employees, including allegations that he berated a subordinate.

Goldman Sachs earned a perfect score on the Equality Index

U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan on Monday said the parties had agreed to a settlement in principle and dismissed the case. Terms were not disclosed.

According to Littleton’s attorney, David Gottlieb, his client’s termination from Goldman is not an isolated incident at the bank or on Wall Street more broadly.

“Wall Street continues to struggle to create an environment that is inclusive and accepting of LGBTQ+ employees,” Gottlieb said in a statement.

Despite this, Goldman Sachs recently scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index, which measures a company’s overall support of LGBT+ staff.