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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 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 against their ... read more >
Between November 18, 2005 and November 16, 2006, current and former African-American financial advisor employees and trainees filed a lawsuit 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 against their employer, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.,. The plaintiffs, represented by private counsel, asked the court for both monetary damages and injunctive relief, charging the defendant with race discrimination in terms of hiring, retention, promotion, pay, resource allocation and more.

On August 9, 2010, the District Court (Judge Robert W. Gettlemen) denied 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. Judge Gettlemen subsequently denied the employees' motion for reconsideration and their amended motion for class certification.

In February 2011, the U.S Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit denied class certification.

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. The District Court denied their motion in September 2011.

The employees filed an interlocutory appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which permitted appeal. On February 24, 2012, the Seventh Circuit (Judge Richard Posner) held that the issue of whether Merrill Lynch's policies had a disparate impact on African-American employees was appropriate for class-wide treatment.

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.

On August 28, 2013, the District Court (Judge Gettlemen) granted preliminary approval for 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. Additionally, Merrill Lynch agreed not to object to a motion for attorney's fees up to 25 percent of the settlement fund and a motion for expenses up to $5 million.

Kunyi Zhang - 11/09/2010
Christianna Kyriacou - 11/08/2013

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Affected Gender
Harassment / Hostile Work Environment
Pay / Benefits
Race discrimination
Causes of Action Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
42 U.S.C. § 1981
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.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing EE-IL-0326 : McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. (N.D. Ill.)
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Megacases, Diversity, and the Elusive Goal of Workplace Reform
Written: Mar. 01, 2008
By: Nancy Levit (University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law)
Citation: 49 B.C. L. Rev. 367 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Second Generation Employment Discrimination: A Structural Approach
By: Susan Sturm (Columbia Law School)
Citation: 101 Colum. L. Rev. 458 (2001)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Links Merrill Lynch Disparate Impact Race Discrimination Class Action: McReynolds et al. v. Merrill Lynch
Merrill Class Action
By: Stowell & Friedman, Ltd.
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

1:05-cv-06583 (N.D. Ill.)
EE-IL-0282-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/24/2013
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 (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]
Opinion (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 (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
EE-IL-0282-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/28/2013
Preliminary Approval Order (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-0282-9000
Gilbert, Jeffrey Court not on record [Magistrate]
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Posner, Richard A. Court not on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
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)
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)
Zelizer, Ethan G. (Illinois)
Defendant's Lawyers Allerhand, Joseph S. (New York)
Bishop, Timothy Simon (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Bonk, Jason B. (New York)
Dinkoff, Allan (New York)
Diomedi, Gina M. (Illinois)
Dray, Laura Lehman (Florida)
Friedman, Jared R. (New York)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Grant, Adam K. (New York)
Klein, Jeffrey S. (New York)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Leffert, Kim Ann (Illinois)
Lightfoot, Lori E. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
McLaughlin, Mark (Illinois)
Nohos, Therese King (Illinois)
Pappas, Nicholas J (New York)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Piell, Jeffrey Scott (Illinois)
Romanello, Salvatore A. (New York)
Shapiro, Stephen M. (Illinois)
EE-IL-0282-0002 | EE-IL-0282-9000
Spector, Mindy J. (New York)
Zahalka, Lori Ann (Illinois)
Other Lawyers None on record

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