BofA To Pay $39 Million To Settle Gender Discrimination Class Action

When people go to work, they reasonably expect to be able to perform their duties while being treated in the same fashion as their co-workers. Unfortunately, there are times when employers treat certain groups of people differently than others, leading to negative consequences for some employees.

Recently, Bank of America agreed to settle a class action lawsuit filed by a group of women who were employed by its Merrill Lynch brokerage firm. The class action suit was initiated in 2010, although the complaints alleged in the suit originated in 2007. Ultimately, 4,800 women were involved in the class action suit, all of whom worked for the organization between August 2007 and September 2013.

The individuals involved in the suit contended that they were discriminated against on the basis of their gender. The suit alleged that the discrimination took a variety of forms, including lower wages than men and policies that prevented women from obtaining certain accounts and advancing within the firm.

Under the terms of the settlement, Bank of America will pay $39 million to the affected women. In addition, the company will enlist the assistance of an applied organizational psychologist to improve the discriminatory policies. Specifically, the firm will have to create a new system to determine how brokers are split into teams and how those teams share customer accounts.

While many are hopeful that the settlement will help to improve the lengthy history of gender bias on Wall Street, Merrill Lynch has been involved in similar settlements in the past. In 1998, it paid $250 million to settle a separate gender discrimination case, which contained similar allegations.

Fight gender discrimination in the workplace

Both men and women ought to be aware of their rights while on the job. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex. Under the law, employers may not refuse to hire or fire someone on the basis of his or her gender. In addition, employers may not discriminate against an employee in terms of his or her "compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment," on the basis of sex.

There are similar protections under Ohio law, as well, prohibiting employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex.

If you have been discriminated against on the job as a result of your gender, take steps to protect yourself. Seek the counsel of a skilled employment law attorney to ensure your rights are protected.