Judge OKs Settlement in American Express Suit

June 17, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A federal court has approved a $31-million settlement in a nationwide gender and age discrimination lawsuit against American Express Co.'s financial advisers unit, according to Reuters.

The parties had agreed to a settlement, which could involve a class of as many as 4,000 female financial advisers, before the case was actually filed with the court. US District Judge Henry Kennedy had given it preliminary approval in March.

The three advisers – Shelley Kosen, Lois Wisocky, and Meg Roy – initially made allegations of sex and age discrimination and unequal pay in October 1999.

The plaintiffs claimed American Express Financial Advisors handed lucrative accounts and steered client leads to male advisers and also engaged in preferential training, mentoring, and promotion of men.

Fourteen women from seven states later joined the action by filing additional charges alleging the same practices, according to Reuters, who quoted lawyers involved in the case.

In addition to the $31 million, which will be distributed to eligible class members and pay attorneys’ fees and costs, American Express Financial Advisors has agreed to change its account and lead distribution process, its internal complaint procedures, and its promotion process.

The company will also create a field diversity officer position to implement and monitor the changes, the lawyers said.