Bank of America Corp will pay US$39 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit brought on behalf of female 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 on Friday 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 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 this year 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.
The lawsuit stemmed from investigations starting as early as 2006, according to the lawyers. Bank of America announced its purchase of Merrill Lynch in 2008.
“We are pleased to resolve this matter,” Bank of America spokesman William Halldin said in an e-mailed statement. “The resolution includes a number of additional and enhanced initiatives that will enrich our existing diversity, inclusion and development programs, providing even more opportunities for women to succeed as financial advisers.”
In a separate case in Chicago, Merrill Lynch is accused of not giving black employees the same business opportunities as the firm’s white financial advisers.