Friday, December 6, 2013

Merrill Lynch wins final approval to settle racial bias case

A federal judge on Friday gave final approval to a $160 million settlement in a racial bias suit against Bank of America's Merrill Lynch unit, Bloomberg reported.

The lawsuit accused the brokerage giant of denying black brokers the same opportunities as their white counterparts. The allegations stemmed from before Bank of America acquired Merrill in 2009.

The settlement brings to a close the lawsuit brought by Nashville, Tenn., broker George McReynolds in 2005. Over its lifespan, the case grew to a class of at least 1,000.

Charlotte-based Bank of America denied discriminating against black brokers. The case was set to go to trial next month.

According to Bloomberg data, the settlement is the third largest in U.S. race-bias litigation.

In September, in a different case, the U.S. Department of Labor ordered Bank of America to pay $2.2 million to more than 1,000 black job applicants turned down for positions in Charlotte after a federal judge ruled that the bank racially discriminated against them.

In that case, the bank had been accused of rejecting qualified black candidates for teller jobs and entry-level clerical and administrative positions in 1993 and again between 2002 and 2005. An administrative law judge ruled the bank used “unfair and inconsistent selection criteria” in choosing white applicants over black job-seekers.

Bank of America has said it is reviewing the Labor Department's order.

Earlier in September, the bank agreed to pay $39 million to women who worked at Bank of America and Merrill Lynch brokerages who claimed they were not given an equal chance to succeed.