U.S. court OKs Bank of America $39 million gender bias deal
By Jonathan Stempel and Nate Raymond
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday approved Bank of America Corp's $39 million settlement of a gender discrimination lawsuit by female brokers over objections that the accord would enshrine bias on Wall Street.
U.S. District Judge Pamela Chen in Brooklyn, New York called the settlement "in all respects, fair, reasonable, and adequate."
The settlement, announced on September 6, resolved claims on behalf of about 4,800 current and former female financial advisers that women were paid less than men, deprived of handling their fair share of lucrative accounts and faced retaliation if they complained.
It is separate from the bank's $160 million settlement with hundreds of black Merrill Lynch & Co brokers who alleged racial bias in pay, promotions and how big accounts were allocated.
Bank of America bought Merrill in January 2009.
Bill Haldin, a spokesman for Bank of America, in an email said the settlement provides for additional steps that "will enrich our existing diversity, inclusion and development programs, providing even more opportunities for women to succeed as financial advisers."
The gender bias accord required Bank of America to hire an independent monitor to oversee improvements and a consultant to study how the bank "teams" brokers. Policy improvements will remain in effect for three years.
Seventy-five female brokers, including named plaintiff Judy Calibuso, had in a November 29 court filing objected to the "meager" settlement amount and "weak programmatic relief." Continued...