June 16, 2020 / 5:14 PM / 16 days ago

Ex-Morgan Stanley diversity officer sues bank, cites racial bias: court filing

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former Morgan Stanley diversity officer sued the bank on Tuesday, alleging racial discrimination, retaliation and violation of equal pay laws, according to a court filing.

The plaintiff, Marilyn Booker, was a managing director for 26 years until she was fired in December, according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn. Booker said the bank eliminated her position after senior executives ignored her proposal to address systemic racial bias against black financial advisers and trainees.

Morgan Stanley rejected the allegations and said the firm will defend itself.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to improve the diversity of our employees and have made steady progress – while recognizing that we have further progress to make,” spokeswoman Mary Claire Delaney said in a statement.

The lawsuit claims the bank violated the Civil Rights Act and New York state human rights laws, as well as federal and state equal pay laws.

According to an article mgstn.ly/30NyU6h about Booker published on Morgan Stanley's website in February 2018, the bank recruited her in 1994 to run one of its first formal diversity programs.

Booker worked in human resources, leading diversity, policy and recruiting until 2011, when she was asked to lead the bank’s urban markets group, which promotes prosperity in inner-city communities through financial literacy programs.

According to the lawsuit, Booker pushed human resources colleagues and senior bank leaders in the fall of 2019 to consider her plan to increase diversity and “remedy rampant bias” against black financial advisers and trainees.

Booker claims the bank retaliated by eliminating her job on Dec. 9, according to the court filing.

Booker also alleged that the bank’s discriminatory employment practices extend to other black female employees, and is filing a collective action claim under the Equal Pay Act.

Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts Marshall; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Richard Chang and Jonathan Oatis

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