After eight years of legal tussles, a federal judge today approved a record $160 million settlement in a racial bias suit against Merrill Lynch brought by black brokers. The settlement, in which Merrill denied any wrongdoing, marks the final resolution to the lengthy case brought by George McReynolds, a broker in Merrill’s Nashville office. McReynolds, as we described in a feature story last week, has continued to work at Merrill throughout the case, despite health troubles and what he describes as a “chilly” reception from co-workers. “We are doing fantastic,” McReynolds said in an interview from the Chicago courthouse today. “The judge was nice to us, and he signed the papers. We were all celebrating.”
Bloomberg News reports that the courtroom “erupted in congratulatory hugs and handshakes at the hearing’s end,” and that U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman praised both Merrill and the plaintiffs for reaching a settlement that he hoped would be a model for changes at other firms.