Merrill Lynch has settled a class action suit brought by current and former employees in its central business review unit alleging the wirehouse failed to pay them overtime, according to news reports.
Jennifer Porter, along with 50 other employees, claimed Merrill Lynch categorized her and other reviewers as non-exempt, paying them hourly and additional overtime pay when they worked more than 40 hours a week as well as bonuses — but only before Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch in 2009, FA-IQ sister publication writes, citing the suit filed in 2017 in U.S. District Court in New Jersey.
After the acquisition, the company reclassified Porter and her colleagues and changed their pay to a weekly salary and annual bonuses “even though they purportedly did not exercise independent judgment or discretion at work in performing their duties,” according to the preliminary settlement agreement cited by the publication.
The employees were allegedly scheduled to work weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. but regularly worked longer, FundFire writes, citing the original lawsuit.
Merrill Lynch agreed to settle the suit for $550,000, the maximum settlement both parties agreed to in July, according to the publication. But the wirehouse denied any liability and damages, FundFire writes, citing the agreement.
“By reaching a mutually acceptable settlement prior to class and collective action certification briefing, depositions, dispositive motions, possibly a trial, and possibly appeals, the [p]arties have reduced their risks and avoided significant expense and delay,” according to the settlement cited by the publication.
A spokesman for Bank of America declined further comment to FundFire.
FundFire could not reach Porter for comment and her lawyers didn’t respond to the publication’s request for comment before publication.