Could there be a less fortunate day on which to announce the settlement of the largest racial discrimination suit ever filed against an American employer?
That’s a no. The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington brings news (technically released last night) that big boy Wall Street brokerage firm Merrill Lynch finally settled the class action suit filed by more than 700 black brokers approximately eight years ago. The total of $160 million, to be divided among affected individuals who’ve worked with the company since 2001, stands as a confirmation of allegations that managers ignored the concerned parties, who were “ostracized by co-workers” and essentially forced into “poor producer” status.
Lynch’s first black CEO, E. Stanley O’Neal, even admitted that black employees rarely got the best work. Why? Because most clients were white and “might not trust” brokers who weren’t.
Wow. That’s what we call “a cultural issue”, not to mention a massive PR problem.