Former top BofA female banker settles 'bro's club' bias lawsuit

Former top BofA female banker settles 'bro's club' bias lawsuit

Brian Snyder

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp has settled a lawsuit by a former top female banker who had accused it of being a "bro's club" that favored male employees over women, and punishing her because she complained about questionable activity.

Terms of the settlement of Megan Messina's lawsuit were not disclosed in a Wednesday filing in Manhattan federal court. The filing said the case was dismissed and cannot be brought again.

Messina, a former co-head of global structured products, had in May accused the second-largest U.S. bank by assets of underpaying her and other women relative to men.

She also said the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank wrongfully suspended her in retaliation for accusing the other structured products chief, who she said was paid more than twice as much, of improper conduct.

The single mother of three was 42 when she sued, her complaint said.

"The matter has been resolved," Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin said in an interview, without elaborating.

"We settled to the mutual satisfaction of all parties," Messina's lawyer Jonathan Sack said in an interview.

"Financial services firms, large and small, need to take a good look at advancing careers of the best and brightest without regard to gender, and make efforts to be more proactive in promoting women," Sack added.

The lawsuit was the latest of many over the years accusing U.S. banks of favoring male bankers, traders and financial advisers over their female counterparts, and permitting offensive conduct toward women.

Messina accused Bank of America of condoning bias by her boss that made her feel unwelcome in his "subordinate 'bro's club' of all-male sycophants."

She said the boss dealt frequently with the other structured products chief while ignoring her, and subjected her to questions such as "Have your eyes always been that blue?"

Messina also accused the structured co-chief of having engaged in "front-running" by purchasing bonds for Bank of America that he knew Citibank wanted, and rigging a debt auction to favor a hedge fund client at the expense of private equity firm Blackstone Group LP .

Prior to suing, Messina had been offered an "enhanced severance package of $500,000" to leave, so long as she dropped her claims, her original complaint said.

The case is Messina v Bank of America Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-03653.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Richard Chang)