Merrill Lynch settles racial discrimination suit for $160 million

This payout is the largest-ever by a U.S. employer in a racial bias suit

Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch unit has put a racial discrimination lawsuit against it to rest at last, for the price of $160 million.

It all began in 2005, when broker George McReynolds accused the then-independent brokerage of giving white brokers the most lucrative accounts, and denying black employees of equal pay and career advancement opportunities. He filed a lawsuit on behalf of 700 black brokers who worked for Merrill. The suit dragged on to the present, going through not one but two appeals at the Supreme Court, and lasting through Merrill Lynch's acquisition by Bank of America in 2009.

But now Merrill Lynch has agreed to settle, and will distribute the $160 million among the plaintiffs—the largest ever sum paid in a racial bias case by a U.S. employer, according to the New York Times. The brokerage will also take advice from black brokers on how to help them succeed professionally.

Read more about Merrill Lynch on InsideCounsel:

Merrill Lynch’s petition to vacate $10.2 million broker award vacated

Merrill brokers lose appeal in racial bias suit

Court grants class action status to Merrill Lynch discrimination suit

BofA to pay $315 million settlement for Merrill Lynch unit

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