Merrill Lynch Settles Wage and Hour Class Actions


Merrill Lynch has agreed to pay $12 million to settle wage and hour class action lawsuits filed by employees seeking compensation for overtime.  The period in dispute is between 2010 and 2012.  The employees are referred to as “client associates,” whose job is to support the financial advisers by serving clients and developing new business (“Merrill settles with client associates for $12M,” by Andrew Osterland).  The employees are predominantly female and the descriptive term that comes to mind, while not used in the article, is “relationship manager.”

There are five plaintiff classes comprised of client associates in Maryland, Washington, New York, California, and all others not working in one of those states.  The settlement is unusual in that it is an “opt-in” settlement, meaning that a class member must take steps to become part of (and be bound by) the settlement.  More typically, class action settlements are opt-out, meaning that class members are included in and bound by the settlement unless they take the necessary steps to opt-out.

The terms of the proposed settlement must be approved by the court.  The settlement terms will be included in a notice that should be sent to all affected class members.

Generally, class action lawsuits are used for a class of people who have the same factual and legal complaint, and whose loss or damage is too small to justify the expense and time commitment of individual lawsuits.  In this case, if class members believe their facts and circumstances are not typical of the class, and their damages are sufficient to warrant it, they may wish to pursue individual actions.

Page Perry is an Atlanta-based law firm with over 150 years of collective experience maintaining integrity in the investment markets and protecting investor rights.