FINSwire Jun 09 2011

Wells Fargo Gender Lawsuit Close to Settlement

By jennifer hoyt cummings

Wells Fargo Advisors on Wednesday asked a Washington federal judge to approve a $32 million settlement in a class-action gender-discrimination suit.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly indicated she would approve the settlement, but said she wanted to take more time to review it again, a Wells Fargo spokesman says. Court documents say the class consists of about 3,000 female financial advisers, about 1,200 of whom have submitted claim forms.

Under the settlement, Wells Fargo Advisors will commit to implement policies and practices aimed at improving and enhancing the experiences of female advisers and reducing discrimination.

Three female advisers who had worked at Wachovia Securities sued Wells Fargo in 2009, charging the company with discrimination that dated back to 2003. Wachovia merged with Wells Fargo & Co. in 2008.

The women said the company afforded fewer business opportunities to female advisers compared to their male counterparts, court documents say. The women also said female advisers were disadvantaged in other ways, like with respect to career advancement, distribution of accounts and work assignments.

"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," a Wells Fargo spokesman says.

The class covers all women who were employed as financial advisers by Wachovia or Wells Fargo at any time between March 17, 2003, and Jan. 25, 2011, which is the date a preliminary approval was reached. The class also covers women who were employed by Wells Fargo Investments LLC and women who were employed as advisers by Prudential Securities Inc. or A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. as of the dates those companies merged with Wachovia.

No objections have been raised about the settlement, and less than 2% of the proposed class has requested exclusion, the court documents say. Claim forms are due on June 20.

Jennifer Hoyt Cummings is a reporter for Dow Jones Newswires, where this story originally appeared. Write to her here.




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