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BofA to settle in discrimination lawsuits

Bank of America recently announced a proposed settlement in the amount of $39 million. The settlement money could be distributed to about 4,800 female employees who are eligible in the workplace discrimination class action.

The gender bias lawsuit was brought by women who worked as financial advisers or licensed financial advisers from 2007 to 2013. The lawsuit claims that Bank of America, which as of 2009 was incorporated into Merrill Lynch, discriminated against its female employees in compensation and business opportunities. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit said that women's potential earnings were compromised when they were shut out of teams that worked on the bank's most lucrative accounts.

Under the terms of the settlement, Merrill Lynch does not admit to any wrongdoing. A spokesperson for the bank stated that the resolution proposes various enhanced initiatives that would help ensure that women are better incorporated into the workforce. The spokesperson said that Merrill Lynch will strive to give women better opportunities to succeed as financial advisers. With this goal in mind, Merrill Lynch will use an independent consultant to study the bank's practices to determine how the bank can improve diversity.

The settlement must be approved by a judge before it can become final; the lawyers in the case plan on seeking court approval in December. This proposed settlement comes only a week after another proposed settlement in the amount of $160 million. The larger settlement would be between Merrill Lynch and 1,200 black financial advisers, and it would call for Merrill Lynch to determine ways to improve opportunities for black employees. Consulting an employment law attorney may be a good first step to employees who feel that they have been subjected to gender or racial discrimination. An attorney could determine whether they have a valid claim or a potential class action lawsuit.

Source: USA Today, "Bank of America to pay $39M in gender bias settlement", September 07, 2013

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