According to reports, Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch unit must defend against a race-discrimination lawsuit on behalf of 700 black financial advisors, as the U.S. Supreme Court turned away a company appeal.
The justices recently left intact a federal appeals court ruling that let the case go forward as a class action. The suing workers say that they are paid less than their white counterparts and that Merrill’s policies are to blame.
The workers allege that black brokers were paid 33 percent to 42 percent less than white colleagues with the same job, education, experience and office location. The workers say the pay disparity stems from Merrill Lynch’s policy of letting advisors work together on teams and its method of distributing the accounts of retiring or departing financial advisors.
The Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the case could go forward as a class action to determine whether the two policies had a so-called disparate impact on black employees. Writing for the court, Judge Richard Posner said individual trials could be used to determine damages, if necessary.
Merrill Lynch argued unsuccessfully in its appeal that its case was similar to the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. class action blocked by the Supreme Court in a 2011 decision.
The foregoing information is being provided by The White Law Group, a national securities arbitration and securities employment law firm with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Boca Raton, Florida.
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