Ex-Edward Jones broker sues former firm, alleging racial bias

Complaint alleges the firm's policies limit African-Americans' 'income and advancement opportunities'

May 25, 2018 @ 1:02 pm

By Bruce Kelly

A former Edward D. Jones broker sued the firm Thursday, claiming widespread, intentional racial discrimination in the firm's policies and practices.

The ex-broker, Wayne Bland, is African-American and worked at Jones from 2014 to 2016. The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Illinois, alleges that Edward Jones "employs company-wide policies and practices regarding training, compensation, partnerships, and the assignment of territories, business opportunities and sales support that unlawfully segregate its workforce and deny African Americans the income and advancement opportunities because of their race."

Mr. Bland is not currently working in the securities industry, according to his BrokerCheck report.

The complaint seeks class action status, and Mr. Bland is represented by the law firm Stowell & Friedman, which has successfully sued large Wall Street firms in discrimination cases in the past. For example, in 2013, Merrill Lynch agreed to pay $160 million to settle a class-action race discrimination lawsuit; Stowell & Friedman represented those 1,200 Merrill employees.

This new complaint against Edward D. Jones "is consistent with the work we've done against other Wall Street firms," Linda D. Friedman, the founding partner of the firm, said in an interview Friday afternoon. "Wall Street is about 40 years behind in creating workplaces that are equal for women and minorities."

The new lawsuit alleging racial discrimination comes at a time when Edward D. Jones is attempting to become more diverse; the firm this month tapped a woman, Penny Pennington, to take over as managing partner at the start of next year, and it has said internally that it wants to increase the diversity of its more than 16,000 registered reps and advisers.

This isn't the first lawsuit Mr. Bland has filed against Edward D. Jones. He was one of four former Edward D. Jones employees who sued the firm earlier this year, in March, alleging the firm required adviser trainees to sign unlawful contracts that charged them costs of up to $75,000 if they left the firm within three years. Prior to working at Edward D. Jones, Mr. Bland had worked for LPL Financial and Vanguard Marketing Corp., according to his BrokerCheck profile.

With regard to the case filed in March, Edward D. Jones disagrees "with the allegations and believe we have complied with all local, state and federal laws related to compensation," company spokesman John Boul said.

On the discrimination claim, the firm "became aware of this complaint only late yesterday," Mr. Boul said. "We are reviewing it and will respond appropriately, but on preliminary review, we strongly disagree with the allegations."

According to the complaint, "Throughout his tenure, Bland was denied resources and business opportunities, including lucrative client accounts, favorable offices and territory, sales and administrative support, and inclusion in favorable broker teams and pooled accounts, on account of his race."

Mr. Bland "has been treated worse than similarly situated Edward Jones employees who are not African American," the complaint alleges.

0
Comments

What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Featured video

INTV

Regulators' gloves are coming off with cybersecurity. Put up your dukes with these tips

Updated guidelines and some of the first-ever rule enforcements signal that regulators are getting serious about holding firms accountable for data breaches, according to special projects editor Liz Skinner and technology reporter Ryan Neal.

Recommended Video

Keys to a successful deal

Latest news & opinion

Blackrock exposed data on 12,000 financial advisers

The data appeared in three spreadsheets, linked on one of the New York-based company's web pages dedicated to its iShares exchange-traded funds

Advisers throw cold water on FIRE movement

Millennials love it, advisers don't: Turns out, extreme early retirement is a suitable goal for almost nobody.

10 universities with the most billionaire alumni

These 10 American schools have the greatest number of alumni who are billionaires.

Top-performing ETFs of 2018

The markets took a beating last year, but these exchange-traded funds bucked the trend

Morningstar says investors rushed the exits in 2018

Net flows into mutual funds and ETFs were the lowest since the 2008 financial crisis, while money-market funds captured inflows.

X

Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting investmentnews.com? It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist investmentnews.com

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.

X

Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print