from January 2007 when Judy Calibuso, a Miami-area broker who had worked for Bank of America or its predecessor Barnett Bank since 1995, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Five women - Calibuso, Mary DeSalvatore of New Jersey, Jean Evans of Missouri, Dianne Goedtel of New York and Julie Moss of Louisiana - now lead the lawsuit, court papers show. Only Calibuso remains with the merged company, her lawyers said.
Large U.S. brokerages are often targets of bias lawsuits, and others have settled charges they unfairly deprived female brokers of compensation and opportunities for career growth.
In 2007, Morgan Stanley settled one such lawsuit for $46 million, while Citigroup Inc reached a $33 million settlement in 2008 and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) a $32 million accord in 2011.
"Generally, Wall Street has recognized the need for a level playing field for its employees and business interests," Cara Greene, a partner at Outten & Golden who also represents the plaintiffs, said in an interview. "Strides have been made, but generally speaking women are still making less than men."
The $160 million Merrill accord with black brokers is one of the largest by an employer of a U.S. racial bias lawsuit.
The gender case is Calibuso et al v. Bank of America Corp et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 10-01413.