Merrill Settles Discrimination Lawsuit

Merrill Lynch&Co. Inc. agreed Tuesday to pay $1.55 million to settle a lawsuit claiming discrimination in the firing of an analyst because he was an Iranian Muslim, Reuters reported.

As part of the settlement with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Merrill Lynch also agreed to train its employees regarding bias based on religion and national origin, and not retaliate against workers who oppose discrimination.

The settlement resolved allegations that Merrill refused to promote and then in August 2005 fired quantitative analyst Majid Borumund because of his religion and national origin, according to the news report. Meanwhile, Merrill allegedly retained and promoted a less qualified person.

Merrill denied the charges in the EEOC’s June 2007 lawsuit filed with U.S. district court in Manhattan.

“All individuals deserve the freedom to compete on a fair and level playing field, which did not occur in this case,” said Spencer Lewis, New York district director of the EEOC, in a statement.

According to court papers cited by Reuters, Merrill will pay Borumand $713,333 in back pay, $356,667 in compensatory damages, and $480,000 for legal fees.

The EEOC will also monitor Merrill’s compliance with the settlement, which remains in effect for two years, according to court papers.

Merrill Lynch is being acquired by Bank of America Corp.—a deal expected to close soon (see “Merrill Lynch Stockholders Approve BoA Deal).