Bank of America Settles Merrill Sex Discrimination Case

Bloomberg—Christie Smythe

Bank of America Corp. will pay $39 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought on behalf of women employees at its Merrill Lynch unit, according to court filings.

Lawyers representing female financial advisers and licensed trainees filed a request for approval of the settlement yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York. The advisers alleged in the lawsuit that Merrill discriminated against women in those positions in compensation and business opportunities.

“This settlement helps ensure that Merrill Lynch is a place where women can thrive and be successful,” Cara E. Greene, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “Hopefully others will follow Merrill Lynch’s example.”

The accord, which is subject to approval by a federal judge, covers about 4,800 women who worked at the firm during the period of Aug. 2, 2007 to Sept. 15, 2013, according to documents filed with the plaintiffs’ motion.

Along with a cash fund, the settlement would require changes at the firm to be overseen by an independent monitor, according to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.

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In a separate case, a federal judge in Chicago is considering whether to approve a $160 million settlement of claims that Merrill Lynch wasn’t giving black employees the same business opportunities as the firm’s white financial advisers.

The case is Calibuso v. Bank of America Corp. (BAC), 2:10-cv-01413, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).