A race discrimination class action lawsuit against Merrill Lynch has been settled for $160 million, the largest amount ever paid by an American company to settle a discrimination lawsuit.  The settlement includes approximately 700 individuals, all blacks who have worked as a broker or trainee since 2001.

The basic claim in the case was that black brokers were not given fair opportunity to succeed.  The settlement represents the conclusion of a long and protracted court fight which was boosted by two key events: (1) the admission in a deposition by Stanley O'Neal, Merrill Lynch's first black president, that blacks might have a harder time at the company; and, (2) a ruling last year by the federal appeals court in Chicago certifying the case as a class action. That ruling was discussed by Robert L. Abell in the Kentucky Employment Law BlogRace Discrimination Class Action by Merrill Lynch Brokers Approved by Seventh Circuit.

Source: New York Times

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