Discrimination Suit Alters Merrill Lynch's Arbitration

Employment disputes at Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. will be resolved differently in the aftermath of the settlement of a class-action sex discrimination lawsuit by female brokers. Starting in July, individuals with employment claims who are dissatisfied with either Merrill Lynch's proposed settlement or that of a mediator can then take their claims to a binding, non-industry forum composed of a pool of lawyers selected by the company and the plaintiff. The settlement ends the company's mandatory arbitration process for employment claims. The eight plaintiffs who broke the lawsuit will share in $600,000 and are free to pursue individual claims. Under the settlement, any of Merrill Lynch's 2,500 current or former female brokers can pursue a claim stemming from an incident since Jan. 1, 1994.

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