* $32 million settlement covers 1,200 female brokers
* Discrimination in pay and promotions alleged
* Some Wachovia, AG Edwards, Prudential brokers covered
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK, June 8 A federal judge signaled that
she would approve a settlement calling for Wells Fargo & Co
(WFC.N) to pay $32 million to about 1,200 female brokers who
claimed they were paid less than men and denied promotions
because of their gender.
At a hearing on Wednesday in the federal court in
Washington, D.C., U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly
indicated she was satisfied with material terms of the accord
but wants to review technical details, according to Cyrus
Mehri, a lawyer for the brokers.
The settlement also requires Wells Fargo to implement a
four-year program to strengthen training and efforts to promote
female brokers, and help ensure that more lucrative customer
accounts were allocated fairly, court records showed. Wells
Fargo also agreed to oversight by an outside monitor.
"It is a major step in trying to bring about change in the
largest brokerages, so that female brokers can compete on a
level playing field, on their merits," Mehri said in an
According to its website, Wells Fargo's brokerage unit
Wells Fargo Advisors has nearly 16,000 brokers, roughly as many
as at the brokerage unit of Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) and
slightly fewer than the number at Morgan Stanley (MS.N).
"While Wells Fargo Advisors has consistently denied the
allegations of discrimination, the firm believes resolving this
matter is in the best interests of the company," said Tony
Mattera, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based bank.
Three female brokers at the brokerage unit of the former
Wachovia Corp had sued Wells Fargo in September 2009, alleging
discrimination dating to 2003. Wells Fargo, the fourth-largest
U.S. bank by assets, bought Wachovia on Dec. 31, 2008.
The accord also covers various workers at brokerage units
of Wachovia, A.G. Edwards Inc and Prudential Financial Inc
(PRU.N). Wachovia took control of Prudential's brokerage unit
in 2003, and bought A.G. Edwards in 2007. An initial settlement
in the case had been reached in December.
Mehri said the average payout would be about $18,000 per
broker, after accounting for about $9.6 million of legal fees
and some monitoring costs.
The case is Carter et al v. Wells Fargo Advisors LLC et al,
U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 09-01752.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel)