NEW YORK (AP) - Bank of America Corp. and Merrill Lynch have made female employees "second-class citizens" by purposely giving their male counterparts opportunities to make more money, according to a gender discrimination lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The suit brought in federal court in Brooklyn by two former Bank of America financial advisers and one current Merrill Lynch broker accuses upper management of favoring men over women by giving them bigger bonuses and "plum business opportunities" that "groomed them for success."
The women also allege that the companies sought to punish them when they complained about the inequalities. One claims that after she protested, she was yelled at and ordered to seek pre-approval when expensing business lunches - something men never had to do.
"Beneath the veneer of a world-class financial institution, the defendants treat their female financial advisers as second-class citizens," the complaint says.
The suit seeks back pay and unspecified damages. It also asks the court for class-action status.
A spokeswoman for Bank America, Shirley Norton, released a statement denying allegations and said the bank will "vigorously defend against the claims."