Female Exec at Bank of America Sues Over ‘Bro’s Club’

May 18, 2016, 1:36 AM UTC
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A senior female fixed-income banker at Bank of America Corp has filed a lawsuit accusing the bank of underpaying her and other women, and retaliating when she complained about illegal or unethical practices by her colleagues.

In a complaint filed on Monday night, managing director Megan Messina said she was a victim of “egregious pay disparity” relative to male peers, and was paid less than half the salary of the man who shares her title as co-head of global structured credit products.

She also accused the bank of condoning bias by her boss that made her feel unwelcome in his “subordinate ‘bro’s club’ of all-male sycophants.” She said the bank violated federal Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections by suspending her last month for complaints about alleged improper activity that harmed clients.

Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin said: “We take all allegations of inappropriate behavior seriously and investigate them thoroughly.” He said Messina remains an employee of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank.

Messina, a 42-year-old single mother of three, is seeking at least $6 million for being underpaid, plus punitive damages and compensation for mental anguish and humiliation.

Her lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan joins many others that accuse Wall Street of bias against female bankers, including being paid less and tolerating demeaning conduct.

“The bank is condoning bad behavior, and blaming the victim,” her lawyer Jonathan Sack said. “It’s one thing to pay women less, but another to reward crookery.”

Messina complained that her boss has treated her “like a summer intern,” spent much more time with the other structured products chief, banned her from client events, and subjected her to questions such as “Have your eyes always been that blue?”

She accused the other structured products chief of “front running,” by purchasing bonds for Bank of America despite knowing that Citibank wanted them, and angering Blackstone Group LP by rigging a debt auction in which the private equity firm participated to benefit a favored hedge fund client.

The co-chief was allegedly paid $17 million from 2013 to 2015, while Messina received $7.25 million, the complaint said.

Messina also said Bank of America refused to tell regulators how another colleague “doctored” trading records to conceal lies about prices that he told Allianz SE’s Pacific Investment Management Co, another major client.

“BofA intentionally and deliberately discriminated and retaliated against Messina (for) following the mantra, ‘If you see something, say something,'” the complaint said.