Senior female exec at Bank of America sues over 'bro's club'

Female Exec Says Bank of America 'Bros Club' Cost Her Over $8 Million

NEW YORK, May 17 (Reuters) - A senior female fixed-income banker at Bank of America Corp has filed a lawsuit accusing the bank of underpaying her and other women, and retaliating when she complained about illegal or unethical practices by her colleagues.

In a complaint filed on Monday night, managing director Megan Messina said she was a victim of "egregious pay disparity" relative to male peers, and was paid less than half the salary of the man who shares her title as co-head of global structured credit products.

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She also accused the bank of condoning bias by her boss that made her feel unwelcome in his "subordinate 'bro's club' of all-male sycophants." She said the bank violated federal Dodd-Frank whistleblower protections by suspending her last month for complaints about alleged improper activity that harmed clients.

Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin said: "We take all allegations of inappropriate behavior seriously and investigate them thoroughly." He said Messina remains an employee of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank.

Messina, a 42-year-old single mother of three, is seeking at least $6 million for being underpaid, plus punitive damages and compensation for mental anguish and humiliation.

Her lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan joins many others that accuse Wall Street of bias against female bankers, including being paid less and tolerating demeaning conduct.

"The bank is condoning bad behavior, and blaming the victim," her lawyer Jonathan Sack said. "It's one thing to pay women less, but another to reward crookery."

RELATED: The gender pay gap, state by state

2016 gender pay gap state to state ranking
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Senior female exec at Bank of America sues over 'bro's club'

51. Louisiana 

Gender pay gap: 34.7%

(Ian Dagnall / Alamy)

50. Utah 

Gender pay gap: 32.4%


49. Wyoming 

Gender pay gap: 31.2% 

(Philip Scalia / Alamy)

48. West Virginia

Gender pay gap: 30%

(J. Stephen Conn/Flickr)

47. North Dakota

Gender pay gap: 28.7%

(Tim Evanson/Flickr)

46. Alabama

Gender pay gap: 27.4%

(Danny Hooks / Alamy)

45. Idaho

Gender pay gap: 27.2%

(Philip Scalia / Alamy)

44. Oklahoma

Gender pay gap: 26.5%


43. Montana

Gender pay gap: 25.8%

(John Elk III / Alamy)

42. Michigan

Gender pay gap: 25.5%


41. Indiana

Gender pay gap: 24.8%


40. New Hampshire

Gender pay gap: 24.3%


39. South Dakota

Gender pay gap: 23.8%

(SuperStock / Alamy)

38. Mississippi

Gender pay gap: 23%

(Don Smetzer / Alamy)

37. Kansas

Gender pay gap: 23%

(Jim West / Alamy)

35. Iowa

Gender pay gap: 22.7%

(Ellen Isaacs / Alamy) 

34. Missouri

Gender pay gap: 22.6%

(L. Allen Brewer/Flickr)

33. Ohio

Gender pay gap: 22.2%


32. New Mexico

Gender pay gap: 21.9%

(Patrick Ray Dunn / Alamy)

31. Arkansas

Gender pay gap: 21.8%

(Buddy Mays / Alamy)

30. Texas

Gender pay gap: 21.2%

(Ian Dagnall / Alamy)

29.  Maine

Gender pay gap: 21.2%


28. Nebraska

Gender pay gap: 21.1%

(Ian G Dagnall / Alamy)

27. Wisconsin 

Gender pay gap: 21.1%

(Jeff Greenberg 5 / Alamy)

26. Illinois

Gender pay gap: 20.9%

(incamerastock / Alamy)

25. Pennsylvania

Gender pay gap: 20.8%


24. Kentucky

Gender pay gap: 20.1%


23. Virginia

Gender pay gap: 19.8%


22. South Carolina

Gender pay gap: 19.8%

(Ellisphotos / Alamy)

21. New Jersey 

Gender pay gap: 19.7%

(Robert Quinlan / Alamy)

20. Alaska

Gender pay gap: 19.2%

(retro traveler/Flickr)

19. Delaware

Gender pay gap: 19.0%

(J. Stephen Conn/Flickr)

18. Tennessee

Gender pay gap: 18.5%

(Jim Nix / Nomadic Pursuits/Flickr)

17. Minnesota

Gender pay gap: 18.4%


16. Rhode Island

Gender pay gap: 18.3%


15. Georgia 

Gender pay gap: 18.2%

(Ian Dagnall Commercial Collection / Alamy)

14. Colorado 

Gender pay gap: 18.1%

(Jesse Varner/Flickr)

13. Massachusetts

Gender pay gap: 18.0%


11. Connecticut

Gender pay gap: 17.4%


10. Vermont

Gender pay gap: 16.2%


9.  Arizona

Gender pay gap: 15.9%

(Photoshot Holdings Ltd / Alamy)

8. California

Gender pay gap: 15.8%

(Robert Landau / Alamy)

7. North Carolina

Gender pay gap: 15.3%


6. Florida

Gender pay gap: 15.1%

(FL Stock / Alamy)

5. Nevada

Gender pay gap: 14.9%


4. Maryland

Gender pay gap: 14.6%

(tim caynes/Flickr)

3. Hawaii

Gender pay gap: 14.1%

(Mauro Ladu / Alamy)

2. New York

Gender pay gap: 13.2%


1. Washington D.C.

Gender pay gap: 10.4%

(Alexandre Deslongchamps via Getty Images)

Puerto Rico has the smallest gender pay gap, and it benefits women. 

Gender pay gap: -4.6% -- Women earn more than men by a small margin

(Fuse via Getty Images)


Messina complained that her boss has treated her "like a summer intern," spent much more time with the other structured products chief, banned her from client events, and subjected her to questions such as "Have your eyes always been that blue?"

She accused the other structured products chief of "front running," by purchasing bonds for Bank of America despite knowing that Citibank wanted them, and angering Blackstone Group LP by rigging a debt auction in which the private equity firm participated to benefit a favored hedge fund client.

The co-chief was allegedly paid $17 million from 2013 to 2015, while Messina received $7.25 million, the complaint said.

Messina also said Bank of America refused to tell regulators how another colleague "doctored" trading records to conceal lies about prices that he told Allianz SE's Pacific Investment Management Co, another major client.

"BofA intentionally and deliberately discriminated and retaliated against Messina (for) following the mantra, 'If you see something, say something,'" the complaint said.

The case is Messina v Bank of America Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 16-03653. (Editing by Tom Brown and Jeffrey Benkoe)

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