Merrill Female Advisors Sue BofA Over Bonuses, Discrimination

The suit against Bank of America/Merrill Lynch seeks class-action status and claims that since wealthier clients have been steered to male financial advisors, female advisors were typically eligible for only lower production-based bonuses.

Jamie Goodman, a Merrill Lynch advisor, has accused Bank of America of discriminating against female financial advisors by offering them lower retention bonuses than their male counterparts, Reuters has reported.

The suit seeks class-action status and claims that since wealthier clients have been steered to male advisors, female advisors were typically eligible for only lower production-based bonuses.


It comes 13 year after a widely publicized discrimination suit was brought against Merrill, and the broker-dealer implemented a national account-distribution plan that included teams of advisors as a means of eliminating discrimination.

The most recent lawsuit was filed in a Manhattan as Goodman v. Merrill Lynch & Co., U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan), No. 09-5841. It was brought by Goodman, who has worked for Merrill Lynch since 1992.

According to Reuters and the lawsuit, Goodman is in the top-quintile of Merrill's 15,800 financial advisors and has been a $1-million producer for nearly a decade. She is being represented by Stowell & Friedman of Chicago.

The Bank of America, which owns Merrill Lynch, says it will vigorously defend itself and that its merit-based retention program was executed fairly and without discrimination.

In 2008, Citigroup agreed to pay some $33 million to settle a San Francisco lawsuit brought by 2,500 Smith Barney female advisors.

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