Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Merrill Lynch commits to change in court settlement
First Published Aug 29 2013 12:15 pm • Last Updated Aug 29 2013 12:15 pm

CHICAGO • As part of its $160 million proposed discrimination settlement with black financial advisers, Merrill Lynch has agreed to make sweeping changes that "may well change the landscape of Wall Street," attorneys said Thursday in court filings.

The documents filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago come days after attorneys for around 1,200 plaintiffs alleged racial bias by the firm announced a deal, which, if approved by a judge, would be one of the largest ever in a discrimination suit.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Among a long list of measures, Merrill Lynch will create a "leadership council" to recommend ways to improve opportunities for African Americans; it commits to interviewing at least one minority candidate when selecting new executives, and it agrees to consider diversity issues when assessing directors’ job performances.

Arguing that the settlement has potential impact beyond Merrill Lynch, Thursday’s joint documents urge the U.S. district judge overseeing the case in Chicago, Robert Gettleman, to formally approve it. A status hearing is scheduled for Sept. 3.

"Class Counsel respectfully submits that this case and settlement may well change the landscape of Wall Street as well as discrimination and class action law," one of the documents says.

Plaintiffs accused the Bank of America-owned Merrill Lynch — one of the world’s largest brokerages with more than 15,000 financial advisers — of steering black brokers away from the most lucrative business and so, under a compensation system emphasizing production, they earned less than their white counterparts.

While it agreed to address issues of diversity in the workplace, Merrill Lynch doesn’t admit wrongdoing in the settlement. In filings during eight years of litigation, it denied the discrimination allegation and staunchly defended its compensation programs.

"All (financial advisers), regardless of race, are judged by the same metric," one of the company’s filings argued. "The rule is simple: produce more, earn more."

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.

Other changes Merrill Lynch agrees to, according to Thursday’s filings, include increases its diversity fund to $1 million a year to pay for business development events for minority and female financial advisers.


story continues below
story continues below



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.