The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Merrill Lynch/Bank of America Latest To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

"There may be no official policy on the books saying whites only but the effect of discriminatory practices fueled by racial bias and exclusionary attitudes has the same impact." Maya Rockeymoore, a policy analyst based in Washington D.C.


Merrill Lynch (Bank of America via acquisition) has joined a list of corporations, which have "come-clean" in settling a discrimination case that spans a decade long period. The New York Times reported on August 27th, 2013. 

The lawsuit, filed in 2005 could result in 700 employees and former employees joining in the $160 million settlement. The settlement is the largest employer award in the United States this year.  After two appeals to the US Supreme Court, Merrill Lynch apparently decided to settle the case out of court well before next year's court date. 

The lead plaintiff, George McReynolds, in the case was employed by Merrill Lynch in the 1980s. As the suit originator McReynolds alleged over the course of his employment with Merrill Lynch, he observed the steering of black employees to clerical jobs as well as withholding more lucrative accounts for white employees. As reported by Reuters the aforementioned discriminatory acts tend to lead to lower pay and fewer career opportunities for black employees.

Apparently, Merrill Lynch has a past history of Equal Employment Opportunity non-compliance. Reuters also reports at the time of McReynold's 2005 filing, the corporation was under a 30-year consent decree to work toward maintaining black employment at around 6.5 percent. Only  2%  of Merrill Lynch's employee census was African-American in 2005. 

George McReynolds
Plaintiffs accused the Bank of America-owned Merrill Lynch — one of the world’s largest brokerages with more than 15,000 financial advisers — of steering Black brokers away from the most-lucrative business; as a result, under a compensation system emphasizing production, they earned less than their White counterparts.
Merrill Lynch/BoA is simply the latest in such lawsuits. I recall many years ago Southwestern Bell Corp. lost a landmark discrimination lawsuits that included discrimination against women in hiring and promotion.

We offer a representative list of offenders and lawsuit settlements.
The Merrill Lynch discrimination settlement is proof-positive hiring preferences based in race continue to yield unbalanced company staffing.  A major US financial institution with 2% of 15,000 employees African-American in 2005!

From a platform of fewer hires of any minority group (including women) comes fewer opportunities for promotion. If you think companies simply fall into 'ruts' and end in discrimination lawsuits think again. How about the business of preferential job assignment, "favored" earnings opportunities and steering people to lower paying clerical positions? Those are very much under-the-cover discriminatory acts generally perpetrated by or for people who are, frankly, bigots and racist.

If you are a person who tires of hearing and reading about issues related to race, think  about our experience. I doubt it is possible you have not personally witnessed or believed you witnessed an act of discrimination at or associated with your job. I will wager you quietly assimilated to the discrimination thinking, "...well it was not the right thing to do, but what can I do, speak-out?" Of course, you would lose your job, correct?  

The post at the other end of a click on this link  (video) does not relate to the workplace; it does however, clearly delineate unequal and unfair treatment based solely in race.  

The lesson for corporations: "corporations are not people Mitt Romney, and the entities should strive to do the right-thing." It costs less, better serves the community in which you do business and actually leverages diversity which pays dividends over the long haul (linked Infographic pdf).  The lesson for people: if you turn your eyes and cover your head when you see acts that are unfair, know the perpetrator could very easily find cause to treat you similarly.  Why do you think the Title VII EEOC Federal Register provides regulation for monitoring the employment experience for minorities, women and white males over age forty?

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