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Women Employees Sue Bank of America and Merrill Lynch for Sex Discrimination

Press Release

National Class Action Lawsuit in Federal Court ChargesViolations of Federal and State Civil Rights Laws

New York, New York (March 30, 2010) Three female Financial Advisors filed a national class action lawsuit today in federal court in New York, charging sex discrimination at Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.  Since its merger with Merrill Lynch, Bank of America is the nation’s largest bank company, one of the largest financial institutions in the world, and the largest brokerage firm in the world. 

The lawsuit, Calibuso, et al. v. Bank of America Corp., et al., charges that Bank of America and Merrill Lynch have engaged in a pattern and practice of gender discrimination against their female Financial Advisors with respect to business opportunities, compensation, professional support, and other terms and conditions of employment. 

The women allege violations of federal and state laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law, and the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992.  They are represented by attorneys from Outten & Golden LLP and Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP.

Plaintiff Judy Calibuso, a current Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor from the firm’s Miami, Florida office who has been in the financial services industry since 1995, stated, “I have come forward to help women at Merrill Lynch and Bank of America keep the company true to its promise of being the ‘bank of opportunity’ for all of us, and not just for male employees.  My hope is that this lawsuit will bring change to Merrill Lynch’s and Bank of America’s policies and corporate culture.”

“While Merrill Lynch and Bank of America have favored male Financial Advisors to receive lucrative client opportunities, they have penalized female Financial Advisors financially for not being chosen for those advantages they created,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Kelly M. Dermody of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP of San Francisco, California. “This action has been brought to ensure equal opportunity for their female employees.”

“Bank of America and Merrill Lynch both have a long history of failing to provide equal employment opportunities to their female Financial Advisors, and since the merger of the two firms, the problems have only continued,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Adam T. Klein of Outten & Golden LLP of New York, New York. 

The complaint charges that, among other things, Merrill Lynch, a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America, discriminates against female Financial Advisors in account distributions; partnership opportunities; upfront money, pay-out rate, and other benefits in its compensation plan; as well as in other opportunities for brokers to increase their income. 

Bank of America is a global financial firm that provides financial and investment services to corporations, governments and individuals around the world.  In 2008, Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch and their respective brokerage divisions were joined under the Merrill Lynch name.  As a result of the merger, Bank of America is one of the largest financial institutions in the world and the largest brokerage firm in the world.  Bank of America employs approximately 15,000 Financial Advisors nationwide.  In addition, Bank of America services customers across the United States and manages over $2 trillion in client assets. 

Press Contacts: Kelly Dermody (Lieff, Cabraser): 415/956-1000, Adam Klein (Outten & Golden): 212/245-1000