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Vanguard Settles Age, Race Discrimination Suit

ignites.com—Beagan Wilcox Volz

Vanguard has settled allegations of age and race discrimination made by a longtime employee in a federal lawsuit filed last May.

The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Iris Henry-Aiken, an African American woman, alleged that Vanguard targeted her for unwarranted criticism and discipline, passed her over for promotions and did not give her periodic raises in line with other employees because of her age and race.

The lawsuit was one of three discrimination suits filed against Vanguard by current or former employees in 2013. Vanguard appears to have settled another of those cases in October.

The amended complaint notes that Henry-Aiken began at Vanguard as a brokerage associate in 1996. She was 60 when she filed the suit last year. Henry-Aiken was an employee at Vanguard when she brought the suit, although her title at the time was not included in the complaint.

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James Bell, an attorney at Bell & Bell who represents Henry-Aiken, did not respond to requests for comment by deadline.

Henry-Aiken filed an amended complaint in November, in which she reiterated her initial claims of discrimination, including that she was passed over for several promotions and then selected to handle lower-net-worth clients.

“Vanguard’s policies with respect to promotion and discipline have a disparate impact on African-American employees in that African-American employees at Vanguard are routinely denied promotions for which Caucasian employees are selected and are subjected to more frequent and harsher discipline than their Caucasian colleagues,” Henry-Aiken alleges.

The plaintiff added allegations of retaliation in her amended complaint.

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“It’s often said the cases that go to trial are the ones that are viewed as 50-50 on both sides, or the ones in which both sides believe they have strong cases,” says Carmelyn Malalis, partner at Outten & Golden, which represents employees.