Posted on June 4, 2024

Merrill Lynch to Pay $20M to Settle Racial Discrimination Case

Gabrielle Saulsbery, Banking Dive, May 30, 2024

Bank of America subsidiary Merrill Lynch will pay nearly $20 million to resolve a class-action lawsuit alleging it discriminated against advisers of color.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, was brought by four former Merrill advisers who alleged that Black brokers were offered fewer “business opportunities” than their White peers.

“Plaintiffs further allege that African-American Financial Advisors were terminated (or ‘washed out’) from employment with Defendants at higher rates than their White counterparts and fail to advance to more senior roles,” court documents show. “Plaintiffs allege that these violations of African-American Financial Advisors’ rights are systemic and based on company-wide policies and practices.”


The firm has implemented policies and programs over the last 10 years directed at increasing opportunity for workers of color, including leadership symposiums, workshops and increased training and coaching to improve diversity and inclusion, the spokesperson told AdvisorHub.

As a result, the number of Black financial advisers at the firm has risen by more than 40%, according to the spokesperson.