Jonathan Stempel, Reuters, May 18, 2007
Five black current and former employees of Bank of America Corp. (BAC.N) have sued the second-largest U.S. bank, accusing it of racial discrimination by steering lucrative clients to their white counterparts.
The 29-page complaint, filed Thursday with the U.S. District Court in Boston, contends that the bank discriminates against African-Americans in pay, promotions, training and support services.
It said the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank regularly teams African-American workers together and assigns them to largely minority neighborhoods and low net-worth clients.
When the workers complained, according to the lawsuit, the bank said it believed that clients are more “comfortable” dealing with bankers and brokers of their own race.
Bank of America said it will defend against the lawsuit, and has a strong record of hiring and training workers. “We have been recognized for our success in creating and supporting a diverse and inclusive work place,” spokeswoman Shirley Norton said. “Our company does not tolerate discrimination.”
The lawsuit covers April 2003 to the present, and seeks class-action status. It seeks a halt to the alleged improper practices, back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages.