Image

4:20 AM / Thursday October 1, 2020

31 Aug 2013

Merrill Lynch said to reach $160 million settlement on racial discrimination class action

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
August 31, 2013 Category: Week In Review Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO: George McReynolds, who was the lead plaintiff in a racial bias law suit against Merrill Lynch in 2005, is shown at his home in Nashville, Tenn. Lawyers representing McReynolds and the other plaintiffs said on Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2013 that they have reached a $160 million settlement. If approved by a federal judge in Chicago, the payout by Merrill Lynch to around 1,200 plaintiffs would be one of the largest ever in a racial discrimination case, according to Chicago-based attorney Suzanne E. Bish. 

(AP Photo/Christopher Berkey)

 

Associated Press

 

Lawyers for hundreds of black financial advisers have reached a $160 million settlement in a lawsuit accusing Wall Street brokerage giant Merrill Lynch of racial discrimination, a plaintiffs’ attorney said Wednesday.

 

If approved by a federal judge in Chicago as expected, the payout by Merrill Lynch to around 1,200 plaintiffs would be one of the largest ever in a racial discrimination case, Chicago-based attorney Suzanne E. Bish said.

 

Bank of America-owned Merrill Lynch — one of the world’s largest brokerages with more than 15,000 financial advisers — issued a statement Wednesday saying only, “We’re not at this point commenting on the existence of the settlement nor the status of a settlement.”

 

The primary plaintiff, George McReynolds, alleged a pattern of discrimination that resulted in blacks having lower production and making less money than white men at the company. McReynolds, of Nashville, Tenn., is still employed at Merrill Lynch, Bish said.

 

The settlement coincides with the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” Bish noted. She said she hopes the case will help ensure the kind of equal opportunity King spoke about in Washington, D.C.

 

“I’m getting goose bumps thinking about it,” she said about coincidence that settle came around the anniversary. “What (the plaintiffs) wanted to achieve was the same opportunities for the next generation — for their children.”

 

Image

Bish said the settlement should force changes beyond the company singled out as the defendant in the eight-year-old lawsuit.

 

“They are leaders on Wall Street,” she said. “And increasing opportunities for African-Americans at Merrill Lynch should spill over to the rest of Wall Street.”

 

Plaintiffs claimed discrimination pervaded Merrill Lynch, at least partly because the company employed relatively few African-Americans overall. In a 2009 plaintiffs’ filing, they contended that fewer than 2 percent of the brokers at Merrill Lynch were black.

 

“Far from being a colorblind meritocracy, race permeates policy and practice in a way that creates substantial obstacles to equal employment opportunity for Merrill Lynch’s African-American employees,” William T. Bielby, a professor of sociology, said in the filing.

 

Merrill Lynch sometimes relied on stereotypes, the filing also asserted, once allegedly suggesting managers encourage black brokers to “learn to play golf or other activities designed to learn how business gets done in manners (they) might not be familiar with.”

 

The black brokers at Merrill Lynch claimed they were systematically steered away from the most lucrative assignments; consequently, under a compensation system emphasizing production, they couldn’t earn what white counterparts made, plaintiffs alleged.

 

When attorneys filed the lawsuit 2005, McReynolds was the lone plaintiff, though hundreds of others signed on as the suit wound its way through the court, at times appearing as if it might be doomed.

 

Robert Gettleman, the U.S. district judge overseeing the case in Chicago, had denied the suit class-action status. But the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago granted the status in 2012 — reviving the case and vastly extending its reach.

 

Gettleman must formally approve the deal, a process that could take months. A status hearing in the case is scheduled for Sept. 3.

 

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Style

Fall home decor trends: Comforting hues, flexible design

September 17, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email By Kim Cook New York-based designer Glenn Gissler painted this New York loft...

Entertainment

Emmy winners highlight push for social justice

September 25, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email By Beth harris ASSOCIATED PRESS  LOS ANGELES — Regina King and Uzo Aduba...

Stateside

Trump’s tax revelation could tarnish image that fueled rise

September 28, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email By JILL COLVIN WASHINGTON (AP) — The bombshell revelations that President Donald Trump...

Sports

Deion Sanders set to become Jackson State’s football coach

September 25, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email ABOVE PHOTO: Deion Sanders  (Photo: DFree / Shutterstock) ASSOCIATED PRESS  JACKSON, Miss.— Hall...

Seniors

Know the facts about pulmonary fibrosis

September 17, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email BPT Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a progressive and debilitating disease that leads to...

Horoscopes

SUNscopes for the week of September 27

September 25, 2020

Tweet Share Pin Email All Signs: It’s been tough with Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn at odds...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff