Goldman Sachs has agreed to pay $215 million to settle a prolonged class-action lawsuit that accused the New York-based giant of bias against female employees in both pay and promotions.

The plaintiffs, former Goldman Sachs employees mainly from investment banking and securities divisions, accused the world's second-largest investment bank of systematically underpaying and undervaluing women in comparison to their male colleagues, Bloomberg first reported.

"After more than a decade of vigorous litigation, both parties have agreed to resolve this matter. We will continue to focus on our people, our clients, and our business," said Jacqueline Arthur, Goldman Sachs' global head of human capital management, according to CNN.

With the settlement, an upcoming trial scheduled to take place next month in a New York federal court, will be eliminated, lawyers representing the former employees confirmed. Furthermore, the $215 million settlement will be divided among 2,800 associates and vice-presidents who participated in the suit. Also, a third of the entire amount is expected to be kept aside for attorney fees.

According to Kelly Dermody, co-counsel for the plaintiffs, the settlement offered a "substantial, certain recoveries for all class members and advances gender equity at Goldman."

If the New York court presiding over the suit approves the settlement, a third-party chair will allocate the settlement funds on the basis of an "objective formula" between class members, according to lawyers.

As part of the settlement, Goldman Sachs will also appoint an independent expert to conduct additional analysis on performance evaluation, gender pay gaps and promotion for three years.

Both sides had been discussing finalizing the deal for weeks, with Goldman wanting to settle before the trial.

This was among the highest-profile cases targeting the alleged unfair and unequal treatment of female employees in Wall Street, considering all of the six biggest U.S. banks have been managed by men.

The original claimants in the class-action, including former Goldman employees Cristina Chen-Oster and Shanna Orlich, first sued Goldman in 2010. They were eventually allowed to lead the lawsuit against the banking institution over sex discrimination in 2018.

In the suit, the plaintiffs accused Goldman's policies to promote better pay and prospects for male employees. They also alleged that the bank's review process allowed managers, predominantly men, to assign the appraisals of staff.

"My goal in this case has always been to support strong women on Wall Street," Allison Gamba, one of the plaintiffs, said after the settlement. "I am proud that the result we achieved here will advance gender equity."

Arthur, on the other hand, said the bank was "proud of its long record of promoting and advancing women and remains committed to ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace for all our people."

Goldman's chief executive David Solomon has been vocal about the efforts made by the company to diversify its workforce, particularly releasing certain hiring targets in 2019. In November, Goldman awarded the coveted status of "partner" to 80 bankers, with women comprising a record 29% of new partners, up from 27% in 2020. It was seen as Goldman's most inclusive group of promotions yet.

The logo for Goldman Sachs is seen on the trading floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City