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Philadelphia Employment Law Firm Reports on Bank of America’s Gender Discrimination Suit

September 19th, 2013

On Friday, Bank of America settled its latest employee discrimination case.  The nation’s largest bank will pay $39 million to female employees and former employees in its brokerage division to settle a gender discrimination lawsuit.  The settlement also includes employees of the brokerage division of Merrill Lynch, which Bank of America acquired in 2008.  This is Merrill Lynch’s second multi-million dollar discrimination settlement in the last two weeks, and one of numerous employee discrimination cases in the firm’s history.

Merrill Lynch Has History of Alleged Gender Discrimination

Merrill Lynch has been promising to increase diversity in its employment since it settled a discrimination case in the 1970s, but it appears their success has been limited.  In 1998, a class action suit representing more than 900 female employees accused the company of gender discrimination.  Merrill Lynch agreed to settle the disputes brought by each of the women, in lieu of having them each pursue an industry-sponsored arbitration, and paid a total of about $250 million.  As part of the agreement, the firm promised to improve opportunities for female brokers, but less than a decade later, they were in trouble again.

In 2007, three female employees in Bank of America’s brokerage division filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that they were facing similar obstacles as the Merrill Lynch employees.  In 2010, when the sex discrimination lawsuit was filed, it included both the Bank of America brokerage business and Merrill Lynch’s brokerage operations, and represented as many as 4,800 employees or former employees who had been subjected to gender discrimination.

Women aren’t the employees facing workplace discrimination at Merrill Lynch.  The firm settled a racial discrimination lawsuit in Chicago two weeks ago, paying a settlement of $160 million.  The suit was filed 8 years ago on behalf of 700 black brokers.  Including Friday’s settlement, the firm has paid a total of almost half a billion dollars in employee discrimination settlements in the last 15 years.

Firm Promises Changes to Close Gender Gap

Wall Street is notorious for workplace discrimination against women, with female employees routinely earning less than men and being afforded fewer investment opportunities.   Employees are optimistic, however, about the recent Bank of America/Merrill Lynch settlement.  As part of the agreement, the company has stated it will take concrete measures to address the gender gap in employee success.  An applied organizational psychologist has been enlisted to review the company’s policies, specifically those regarding how brokerage teams are formed and who has access to certain accounts.  The plaintiff’s are hopeful that, this time, the changes will make a difference.

Philadelphia Employment Discrimination Attorneys at Sidney L. Gold & Associates Advocate for Victims of Gender Discrimination

The tradition of gender discrimination is deeply entrenched in the financial community.  Even in the twenty-first century, large companies such as Bank of America and Merrill Lynch seem reluctant to change practices that prevent female employees from succeeding.   If you have been the victim of sex discrimination, an experienced employment discrimination attorney can help you get justice.

The Philadelphia employment law firm of Sidney L. Gold & Associates is dedicated to helping victims of employment discrimination, including gender discrimination.  Our knowledgeable, professional staff will help you through every step of the process, from assembling your case to settlement negotiation to litigation, if necessary.  We understand the complexities of employment discrimination law, and we will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.  With offices conveniently located in Center City Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Call us at 215-569-1999 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a qualified employment discrimination attorney.

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