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Over 900 Bias Claims Filed in Merrill Lynch Settlement

More than 900 current or former female employees of Merrill Lynch have filed claims of discrimination against the financial services company.

When Merrill Lynch settled a class action suit last June, the company’s lawyers anticipated that somewhere between two hundred and three hundred people would file complaints, far fewer than the 900 who actually did. The deadline for participation in the settlement was today, March 2, 1999.

In last year’s suit, 8 plaintiffs testified that Merrill Lynch supervisors allegedly made disparaging comments such as “women can’t combine work and family” and told women that they didn’t earn as much as less-qualified men because “Men have a family to support,” and “Well, you have a husband.”

Plaintiffs also alleged that women employees were denied financial bonuses including tips and client referrals, which were regularly awarded to male brokers. “It was a systematic problem,” said plaintiff Marybeth Cremin. “The accounts and assets were for a large part going to male brokers.”

Given that many of the women involved in the class action settlement earn high salaries, plaintiffs suspect that settlement awards will cost Merrill Lynch millions of dollars.

Sources:

AP - March 2, 1999