Bank of America settles sex suit with Merrill broker

Nov 17, 2010 @ 9:41 am

By Bloomberg

Bank of America Corp. settled a lawsuit filed by a broker who claimed the bank’s Merrill Lynch & Co. unit discriminates against women through its partnership model.

Jamie Goodman, a broker who worked at Merrill since 1992, sued last year in federal court in Manhattan. U.S. District Judge Shira A. Scheindlin wrote in a court order today that both sides told her they reached a settlement. Terms weren’t disclosed.

The lawsuit was filed 13 years after Merrill was sued for systemic sex discrimination against women in a case that led to the company’s creation of a national account-distribution plan. As part of that effort to eliminate bias, Merrill created partnerships, or teams, of brokers.

Goodman argued that retention bonuses paid to brokers by Bank of America after acquiring Merrill reflect a bias against women. Female brokers were less productive than white men due to the firm’s “systemic discrimination,” and got lower bonuses as a result, according to the complaint.

Bill Halldin, a spokesman for Charlotte, North Carolina- based Bank of America, declined to comment.

Linda Friedman and George Robot, lawyers for Goodman, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment after business hours.

The case is Goodman v. Merrill Lynch, 09-cv-5841, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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