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George McReynolds became a broker at Merrill Lynch in 1983. He was 38 years old and excited about his new career. But it soon became obvious to McReynolds that the few black brokers at Merrill were not doing well at the firm — the third largest on Wall Street.
McReynolds says he and the other black brokers were consistently shut out from gaining access to lucrative accounts and were often forced to give up the successful accounts they already had.
“The African-American brokers got few very if any of the good accounts — we were always given the accounts that other people didn’t want,” McReynolds told Here & Now. “We were treated like second class citizens.”
In 2005, McReynolds initiated a class action lawsuit on behalf of 700 black brokers against Merrill Lynch, which was bought by Bank of America in 2008.
Last week, after eight years in court, the firm agreed to settle for $160 million, making it the largest payout in a discrimination lawsuit against an American employer.