Two former registered representatives of Merrill Lynch have filed a class action suit in a Michigan federal court alleging that the firm and its parent, Bank of America, have discriminated against African American advisers.
“African Americans employed as FAs have received less compensation and have been promoted less frequently than their White counterparts as a result of defendants’ discriminatory policies, patterns, and/or practices, including defendants’ minimum threshold production credit requirements, lack of support, and inequitable teaming opportunities,” said the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan by Ravynne Gilmore and Lucinda Council.
This case further alleges that African American financial advisers are terminated at higher rates than their white counterparts, and fail to advance to more senior roles as a result of discriminatory policies, patterns, or practices, including minimum threshold production credit requirements, lack of support and inequitable teaming opportunities.
A spokesperson for Bank of America said the firm disagreed with the claims in the lawsuit.
“Merrill has a longstanding commitment to increase the diversity of our financial advisers and provide support to help each adviser succeed,” said spokesperson Bill Halldin.
Halldin noted diversity data Merrill disclosed last year that showed that 23% of its advisers were ethnically diverse, up from 15.5% in 2015.
In 2013, Merrill Lynch reached a $160 million settlement in a racial discrimination lawsuit filed by a group of advisers.
In the current case, plaintiffs are seeking certification as a class action, compensation for damages and various measures to be undertaken by the firm.
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