Three former female employees are suing Goldman Sachs, saying they faced fewer opportunities and were discriminated against at the banking giant. “The violations of its female employees' rights are systemic, are based upon companywide policies and practices, and are the result of unchecked gender bias that pervades Goldman Sachs's corporate culture,” the women said Wednesday in their complaint.

Cristina Chen-Oster, a former vice president; Lisa Parisi, a former managing director; and Shanna Orlich, a former associate, are seeking class-action status on behalf of all female managing director, vice president and associate employees in the last six years. They claim that the "unchecked discretion" of the vastly male managerial staff rewards men far more than women, who are underrepresented in management, comprising just 14 percent of partners, 17 percent of managing directors and 29 percent of vice presidents.

"We believe this suit is without merit. People are critical to our business, and we make extraordinary efforts to recruit, develop and retain outstanding women professionals," said Lucas van Praag, a Goldman spokesman. In March, a former Goldman Sachs vice president sued the firm for scuttling her to the "mommy track" when she was pregnant. Last year, Goldman Sachs began a new initiative called 10,000 Women, with the goals of helping more women receive a business and management education.