Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg

BofA Settles Gender-Bias Lawsuit With ex-Managing Director

Updated on
  • Megan Messina claimed Wall Street bank was a ‘bros club’
  • Messina had been offered $500,000 to drop the case earlier

Bank of America Corp. and a former managing director agreed to settle a lawsuit in which she accused the institution of being a "bros club" that favored male employees.

Terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed in a Wednesday filing in Manhattan federal court. Megan Messina had been offered $500,000 to settle, according to an earlier filing.

The deal comes just four months after Messina, who was co-head of global structured credit products, became the latest woman to allege widespread bias at a Wall Street bank. Messina, 42, who became a managing director in 2011, sued in May, saying the bank paid her substantially less than male coworkers and that it treated women like second-class citizens.

"The matter has been resolved," William Halldin, a spokesman for the bank, said in a phone interview. He declined to elaborate. The "case settled to the mutual satisfaction of all parties,” Jonathan Sack, Messina’s lawyer, said in a e-mail.

Other banks have agreed to large settlements with groups of employees in recent years. Citigroup Inc. agreed in 2008 to pay $33 million to resolve a bias suit by female brokers, and Morgan Stanley agreed in 2007 to set up a $46 million claims pool to settle a sex-discrimination claim brought by former financial advisers.

Paid Less

Messsina said in her complaint she was paid about a third of what her co-head, David Trepanier, made for 2015. She accused the bank of paying a female trader who reported to Trepanier less than male colleagues because she took maternity leave.

Messina also accused the bank of front-running -- or trading ahead of client orders -- as well as lying to customers and manipulating prices. When she complained of the practices, she said she was placed on forced leave and barred from returning to her office.

Federal prosecutors in North Carolina, where the Charlotte-headquartered bank is based, have been investigating for at least two years practices similar to what Messina alleged, a person familiar with the matter said in May. Her allegations describe more recent events.

‘Bros Club’

The bank denied Messina’s allegations in court papers and insisted that the term “bros club” was never used by her supervisor or other managers but was invented by Messina and her lawyers.

The lawsuit was being dropped by agreement of the parties "without costs, disbursements, interest or an award of attorneys’ fees to any party," according to Wednesday’s filing. That’s standard legal language in lawsuit dismissals and doesn’t necessarily indicate there was no financial settlement.

Bank of America persuaded the judge to remove parts of Messina’s claims from the public record in late August. Earlier versions of Messina’s complaint, including the claim she was offered a $500,000 severance in May 2015 to drop claims she made with two federal agencies, were replaced by a redacted version.

The new version also blacked out the names of clients, such as The Blackstone Group LP, Anchorage Capital Group LLC and Pacific Investment Management Co., that Messina claimed were harmed by the bank’s trading practices.

The case is Messina v. Bank of America Corp., 1:16-cv-03653, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).