The Power of Class Action Lawsuits: Merrill Lynch’s $20 Million Settlement on Racial Discrimination

Class action lawsuits allow the average employee to band together and get justice from large powerful corporations.

Class action lawsuits are often seen as the vehicle of justice for the average person, allowing individuals to band together to hold even the most formidable, seemingly untouchable companies to account for their actions. A recent case involving Merrill Lynch, a Wall Street brokerage titan, has brought this to light, with the company agreeing to pay nearly $20 million to settle a class-action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against its Black financial advisers.

This lawsuit claims that African American advisers employed by Bank of America-owned Merrill received less compensation and fewer promotions than their white counterparts. Furthermore, these employees were terminated at higher rates with fewer opportunities for advancement due to discriminatory practices entrenched in the company’s culture.

The repercussions of such systemic violations of African-American employees’ rights had to be addressed. The suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida by four former Merrill advisers has set a precedent that even the biggest corporations can be held accountable for racial discrimination in the workplace.

Merrill has agreed to pay $19.95 million — beyond attorney fees and administration costs—to compensate those affected. The settlement is set to benefit approximately 1,375 eligible class members. A judge is yet to approve this settlement, but Merrill has also agreed to “programmatic relief” that includes reviews of diversity practices and pay equity analyses.

Bank of America has stated that the settlement allows them to focus on supporting Black financial advisers and their clients. Over the past decade, they have implemented policies and programs to improve diversity and inclusion. This initiative has resulted in an over 40% increase in the number of Black financial advisers at Merrill and a significant upturn in team representation.

The case against Merrill Lynch is not an isolated incident. They have faced similar allegations in the past, resulting in a $160 million settlement in August 2013. These cases underscore the power of class action lawsuits in ensuring even the most powerful entities are held accountable for their actions.

In the fight against race discrimination, class action lawsuits prove time and again that no company is too large or too powerful to be immune from legal recourse. This not only brings justice for those wronged but also forces companies to examine and modify their practices to ensure a more inclusive and equitable workplace.

Helmer Friedman LLP Takes Cases To U.S. Supreme Court

Helmer Friedman, Crystal Lightfoot presents case to U.S. Supreme Court. On November 8, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in a case Helmer Friedman LLP successfully convinced the high court to hear.  The case — Lightfoot v. Fannie Mae, Cendant Mortgage Corporation case (14-1055) — concerns whether individual homeowners who have been wrongly or fraudulently foreclosed upon by Fannie Mae have the right to sue the mortgage giant in the state courts.

According to the Supreme Court, approximately 7,000-8,000 petitions for a writ of certiorari are filed each Term and the Court grants and hears oral argument in merely 80 of those cases – about 1%.

If you want to check out our petition for a writ of certiorari which got the ball in motion for this oral argument, you can read it here

If you care to read all of the documents and commentary about the case,you can check it out here

Wage and Hour Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Tatitlek Support Services, Inc.

Helmer Friedman LLP Employment Class Action Specialists and The Cowan Law Firm filed a class action lawsuit against Tatitlek for alleged unpaid wages and missed meal periods and rest breaks regarding the personnel that it provided to the Marine Corps at Twentynine Palms. Andrew H. Friedman of Helmer Friedman LLP — 310-396-7714 — invite witnesses with any information to contact us.