Merrill Lynch Agrees to Historic Settlement in Racial Discrimination Suit

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As President Barack Obama led the nation in a commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech, there was news that one of Wall Street's biggest firms has agreed to pay an historic settlement in a racial discrimination suit.

The New York Times reports that Merrill Lynch will pay $160 million to 700 black brokers who sued the investment giant for racial bias. It's believed to be the largest sum ever paid to end a racial discrimination suit against an American company.

Plaintiffs in the case say black brokers at Merrill Lynch received little or no help from managers, and were often ostracized from co-workers. The lawsuit began with one man, George McReynolds, and it took years for the case to be certified as a class action suit.

"On Wall order to sue your employer, you've got to get a group together and say that we have enough people with similar circumstance that we can bring a class action," said New York Times reporter Patrick McGeehan. "Otherwise you have to arbitrate the case." Certification of the case only came in 2012.

To listen to Host Amy Eddings' full interview with McGeehan, click on the audio above.