Lawsuit: “Boys Club” Alive and Well at Merrill Lynch

Below is the complaint recently filed in New York state court by three female plaintiffs against various Merrill Lynch entities.  More information on this (for example) here and here.

Plaintiffs allege discrimination in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL), following the non-prejudicial dismissal of those claims from plaintiffs’ federal lawsuit.  (You can read the opinion granting defendants summary judgment on plaintiffs’ Title VII and State Human Rights Law claims here.)

Plaintiffs base their single cause of action for gender discrimination under the NYCHRL on (for example) the following allegations:

  • a male director/manager gave each female financial adviser a copy of a book entitled “Seducing the Boys Club” (which, according to the complaint, “encourage[s] women to stroke men’s egos with flattery and manipulation in order to succeed in a male-dominated environment such as Merrill Lynch”);
  • a male Vice President “belittled” one of the plaintiffs and suggested that she “stick to her knitting”;
  • a female financial adviser was tasked to answer a male manager’s phone and told, when she questioned this, that he “feels more comfortable with girls answering the phone”; and
  • women were disproportionately targeted for layoffs and males who were less competent (and, in one case, drunk at work) were not included on the layoff list.

Plaintiffs seek “make whole” damages, punitive damages, compensation for emotional distress and reputational harm, interest, damages to compensate them “for any adverse tax consequences”, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

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