Lewis Diuguid

August 29, 2013

Merrill Lynch bias settlement sad reminder of costly discrimination against African-Americans

A $160 million settlement that black financial advisers reached in a lawsuit against Merrill Lynch on Wednesday shows on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of equality for people of color is far from being a reality.

Discrimination anywhere is costly.

Merrill Lynch is the latest to pay the price of racial discrimination against hundreds of black financial advisers. They have reached a settlement of $160 million in a lawsuit accusing the Wall Street brokerage giant.

The money would go to about 1,200 plaintiffs if approved by a federal judge in Chicago, making it one of the largest racial discrimination cases, The Associated Press reports. George McReynolds, a primary plaintiff who still works for Merrill Lynch, alleges a pattern of discrimination that resulted in African-Americans having lower production and making less money than white men at the company.

It’s a big deal because charges of racial discrimination are nearly impossible to prove. Many lawyers will not represent clients on such cases.

But workplace bias like this are too familiar to many African-American workers throughout many industries. Discrimination is evident in pay and who gets choice assignments, promotions or grunt work.

The settlement Wednesday on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom is a sad reminder that the dream of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. — that black people be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin in this country — is far from being realized.

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