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Case Name McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch & Co. EE-IL-0282
Docket / Court 1:05-cv-06583 ( N.D. Ill. )
State/Territory Illinois
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Case Summary
Between November 18, 2005 and November 16, 2006, current and former African-American financial advisor employees and trainees filed a lawsuit against their employer, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois under both Title VII of the Civil Rights ... read more >
Between November 18, 2005 and November 16, 2006, current and former African-American financial advisor employees and trainees filed a lawsuit against their employer, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Illinois under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for both monetary damages and injunctive relief, alleging the defendant engaged in race discrimination in terms of hiring, retention, promotion, pay, resource allocation and more.

The plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint on July 19, 2006.

On November 8, 2008 the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification. On August 9, 2010, the District Court (Judge Robert W. Gettleman) issued an amended order denying the plaintiffs' motion for class certification on the ground that commonality was not satisfied because the putative class members were supervised by hundreds of different people and had a wide variety of salary levels and positions. 2010 WL 3087483.

On February 14, 2011, Judge Gettleman denied the plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration for class certification and their request to narrow the class definition. Judge Gettleman held that the plaintiffs' disparate impact claim was not sufficient to satisfy the commonality requirement for class certification and that their class as proposed failed to satisfy either category of class certification because the individual questions of law and claims to relief predominated over those of the class. 2011 WL 658155.

The plaintiffs appealed this decision to the U.S Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. (Judges Richard Posner, Diane Wood, and David Hamilton), which denied the request based on an untimely appeal.

The plaintiffs filed an amended motion for class certification in July 2011, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court decided Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes. Judge Gettlman denied their motion on September 19, 2011, once again on commonality grounds. 2011 WL 4471028.

The employees filed an interlocutory appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. On February 24, 2012, the Seventh Circuit (Judges Posner, Wood, and Hamilton) reversed the District Court decision. The Circuit Court held that the issue of whether Merrill Lynch's policies had a disparate impact on African-American employees was appropriate for class-wide treatment because each of the plaintiffs' claims had the common question of whether Merrill Lynch "violated the antidiscrimination statutes." 672 F.3d 482.

Merrill Lynch's motion for rehearing en banc was denied by the Seventh Circuit on March 27, 2012. Its subsequent appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied on October 1, 2012.

On July 13, 2012, the District Court issued certification of the disparate impact class, according to the Seventh Circuit's order.

On December 6, 2013, the District Court (Judge Gettleman) approved a settlement agreement on all claims proposed by the parties. Pursuant to the agreement, Merrill Lynch would allocate $160 million in a settlement fund, $25 million of which would be designated for extraordinary claims. The District Court also approved service awards of $250,000 for each Class Representative and $75,000 for each member of the Steering Committee. In regards to attorney's fees, the District Court approved the plaintiff's requested attorney's fees of 21.25% (20% of the first 100 million of the settlement fund and 15% of the remainder). The programmatic relief granted by the settlement consisted of several changes to company policies, including changes to the distribution of accounts, as well as the establishment of coaching for African American financial advisors and a diversity fund to assist African Americans in funding business development events. This portion of the settlement lasted for 3 years.

On December 16, 2014, a named plaintiff filed a motion to appeal the District Court's final approval of the class action settlement, but the Seventh Circuit (Diane P. Wood, Richard D. Cudahy, and Diane S. Sykes) denied the appeal based on an untimely request.

The settlement how now run its course and there has been no further litigation. The case is now closed.

Kunyi Zhang - 11/09/2010
Christianna Kyriacou - 11/08/2013
Mackenzie Walz - 03/18/2018
Lisa Limb


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Discrimination-area
Demotion
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Pay / Benefits
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
Race discrimination
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, & Smith, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Class of current and former African-American financial advisor employees and trainees of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Damages
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Filing Year 2005
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing EE-IL-0326 : McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. (N.D. Ill.)
Additional Resources
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  Merrill Lynch Disparate Impact Race Discrimination Class Action: McReynolds et al. v. Merrill Lynch
Merrill Class Action
Date: 2010
By: Stowell & Friedman, Ltd.
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:05-cv-06583 (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0282-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/26/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Second Amended Complaint (2006 WL 3886029)
EE-IL-0282-0006.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 11/15/2006
Amended Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 407] (2009 WL 3184179) (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0282-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/09/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 407] (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0282-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/09/2010
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 447] (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0282-0008.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/14/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Ct. of App. ECF# 00711521147]
EE-IL-0282-0009.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/20/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 482] (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0282-0010.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/19/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion [Ct. of App. ECF# 513] (672 F.3d 482)
EE-IL-0282-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 02/24/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Class Certification Order [ECF# 534] (2012 WL 5278555) (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0282-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 07/13/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement and Release [ECF# 585-1]
EE-IL-0282-0002.pdf | External Link | Detail
Date: 08/28/2013
Preliminary Approval Order [ECF# 589] (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0282-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/04/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Denlow, Morton (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0282-0006 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Gettleman, Robert William (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0282-0001 | EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-0004 | EE-IL-0282-0005 | EE-IL-0282-0007 | EE-IL-0282-0008 | EE-IL-0282-0010 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Gilbert, Jeffrey Court not on record [Magistrate]
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Hamilton, David Frank (Seventh Circuit, S.D. Ind.)
EE-IL-0282-0009
Posner, Richard A. Court not on record
EE-IL-0282-0003 | EE-IL-0282-0009
Wood, Diane Pamela (Seventh Circuit)
EE-IL-0282-0009
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bish, Suzanne Elaine (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Friedman, Linda (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-0006 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Gilbert, Jennifer Schoen (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Robot, George S. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Stowell, Mary (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-0006 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Wood, James Bryan (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Zelizer, Ethan G. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Allerhand, Joseph S. (New York)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Bishop, Timothy Simon (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Bonk, Jason B. (New York)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Dinkoff, Allan (New York)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Diomedi, Gina M. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Dray, Laura Lehman (Florida)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Friedman, Jared R. (New York)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Grant, Adam K. (New York)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Klein, Jeffrey S. (New York)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Leffert, Kim Ann (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Lightfoot, Lori E. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
McLaughlin, Mark (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Nohos, Therese King (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Pappas, Nicholas J (New York)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Piell, Jeffrey Scott (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Romanello, Salvatore A. (New York)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Shapiro, Stephen M. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Spector, Mindy J. (New York)
EE-IL-0282-9000
Zahalka, Lori Ann (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-9000

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