Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wells Fargo Advisors Paying $35.5 Million to Settle Racial Discrimination Case

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wells Fargo Advisors Paying $35.5 Million to Settle Racial Discrimination Case

Article excerpt

Wells Fargo Advisors, the St. Louis-based brokerage arm of Wells Fargo, has agreed to pay $35.5 million to settle a class action racial discrimination lawsuit brought by a group of African- American financial advisers. The company also agreed to implement several initiatives to boost recruiting and advancement opportunities for African-Americans after the settlement finalizes later this month.

Lance Slaughter, the lead plaintiff, filed the lawsuit in September 2013 in federal court in the northern district of Illinois. Slaughter, a financial adviser employed by Wells Fargo Advisors in the Washington, D.C., area since 2005, alleged that of the company's more than 15,000 registered brokers, African- Americans are under-represented in adviser and managerial roles and are paid substantially less than employees who are not African- Americans.

Wells Fargo "employs company-wide teaming and account transfer and distribution policies and practices that deny African-Americans the same business opportunities as employees who are not African- American," the lawsuit alleged. "Wells Fargo's teaming and account distribution policies and practices exclude African-Americans from lucrative teams and client account distributions and segregate its workforce by race."

There are at least 325 people who self-identify as African- Americans who are potential members of the class and there may be more class members, said Slaughter's attorney, Linda Friedman of the Chicago-based law firm Stowell & Friedman, who said she's hopeful the settlement will prompt other investment firms to end discriminatory practices.

In addition to the monetary settlement, Wells Fargo Advisors also agreed to not enforce class action waivers or mandatory arbitration agreements for race discrimination or race-related retaliation claims of African-American financial advisers or trainees for four years. …

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