Merrill Sues over Racially Charged E-mails to Employees

Merrill Lynch&Co Inc. has sued an unnamed defendant it alleges impersonated a bank manager and then sent racially denigrating e-mails to civil rights leader Al Sharpton and several black Merrill investment brokers.

Reuters reports the unidentified defendant, believed to be based somewhere in the U.S. Midwest, began sending racially charged e-mails in September, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. “The e-mails sent by defendant contain explicit racial remarks that are meant to be offensive to the African-American employees of Merrill Lynch,” the complaint said, according to Reuters.

The e-mails were made to appear as though they were sent by a Merrill Lynch regional administrative manager, the company said. In some instances, the complaint said, the e-mails were made to appear as though they had been signed by the manager, and at times they also made specific reference to the Merrill Lynch name and mark, according to the complaint.

The e-mails were sent from a Hotmail account, which the complaint alleged the defendant opened in the manager’s name, the news report said.

Merrill has sued for trademark infringement and asked the court to stop the dissemination of the e-mails.