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Bank of America and Merrill Lynch Agree $39M Gender Bias Class Action Settlement

This is a settlement for the Sex Discrimination Class Action lawsuit.

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New York, NY: A $39 million settlement has been reached in the gender bias class action lawsuit pending against Merrill Lynch, now owned by Bank of America Corp (BoFA). The lawsuit was brought by female brokers who claimed they were paid less than men and deprived of handling their fair share of lucrative accounts. Approximately 4,800 current and former female financial advisers and trainees at Bank of America and Merrill are eligible for this settlement.

According to a report by Reuters.com, the gender bias class action settlement was disclosed less than two weeks after news that the bank reached a $160 million settlement with hundreds of black Merrill Lynch & Co. brokers who alleged racial bias in pay, promotions and how large accounts were allocated.

The lawsuit, entitled The gender case is Calibuso et al v. Bank of America Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 10-01413, alleged that female financial advisers and trainees were intentionally discriminated against by Bank of America and Merrill because the defendants favored male brokers when awarding pay, allocating client accounts and referrals, and providing professional and marketing support.

According to court papers, such practices created a "cumulative advantage"effect that perpetuated and widened earnings disparities by gender. Bank of America was also accused of retaliating against female brokers who complained of bias.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, BoFA will retain an independent monitor to oversee improvements to its practices. Additionally, it must hire a consultant to study how it "teams"brokers and how its teaming practices affect the allocation of accounts.

Bank of America is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and said it ended June with nearly 15,800 financial advisers.

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