(Bloomberg) -- Women suing Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in one of the era’s biggest Wall Street gender-discrimination lawsuits asked a federal judge this week to stop the bank from forcing more than 1,000 of them into arbitration.

Lawyers for the group argue that Goldman has waited too many years to now try to push them out of open court and into the closed-off system of arbitration. They cite their case’s 755 docket entries, 376 discovery requests, 100 letters to the court, 44 motions, 33 days of depositions and 20 expert reports. Goldman said in a separate filing that arbitration is standard on Wall Street.

Cristina Chen-Oster, a former vice president at the bank, filed a preliminary complaint against Goldman in July 2005 -- and last year a judge allowed her and co-plaintiffs to represent as many as 2,300 other current and former employees.

“It is no coincidence that Goldman’s last-ditch effort to dismantle the class came after it lost” the fight over class certification, her lawyers wrote in the new filing. They claim that the bank pays women less because of bias.

Goldman has said it’s vigorously defending the firm against what it believes are meritless accusations. In April, the bank asked to weed out the majority of the women in the class, citing arbitration agreements they signed -- a kind of promise not to sue. In another filing this week, lawyers for Goldman said the women “ignore that arbitration of employment disputes has long been a standard business practice across the financial services industry.”

This month, the Goldman women won access to personnel files and related information for 32 male peers in their fight to prove bias.

To contact the reporter on this story: Max Abelson in New York at mabelson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael J. Moore at mmoore55@bloomberg.net, Steve Dickson, Dan Reichl

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