Bank Of America Has Never Heard Of This 'Bro Club' Of Which You Speak

Did they even have official swag? A website? An LLC?
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Brian Moynihan/Getty Images

Brian Moynihan/Getty Images

Back in May, a managing director from Bank of America named Megan Messina filed a lawsuit against her employer, alleging "egregious pay disparity" compared to her male colleagues (claiming that a man with whom she shared the co-head of global structured credit products title received more the double her compensation); violations of whistleblower protections; and a general culture of bias towards employees with testicles, in which her boss was allowed to "treat her like a summer intern," ban her from certain client events, and pose questions like "Have your eyes always been that blue?" In the suit, Messina (via her lawyers) summed up the environment at BofA as that of a "Bro's Club."

For the most part, it's been pretty much accepted by now that for the majority of its existence, Wall Street has been a club for bros. The only people who might quibble with that label are the men who worked on Wall Street in 1940 or earlier, and their argument wouldn't be that Wall Street wasn't a bro club, but that the phrase is completely redundant because Wall Street is no place for the ladies, unless they're working as secretaries. And while a lot of employers have done a lot to change the club to both include women and treat them as equals, few people would say that things are 100% fixed. See: a report of the pay gap for women in elite jobs that came out the same week Messina filed her lawsuit and "I was walking through Midtown with a managing director when he sped ahead of me to look at a woman. 'I had to get a look at those tits,' he said."

Now, most people with brains understand that when Messina and her lawyers used the phrase "Bro's Club," they were not referring to an official club that meets regularly and takes roll call and sends out weekly minutes on official letterhead, but as a way of describing a setting in which less overt, more insidious transgressions against women were allowed to take place. Bank of America, on the other hand...

In an answer to the suit filed late Friday, the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank rejected most of the allegations without further comment. However, it specifically denied the existence of a bro’s club, saying the term was never used by her supervisor or other managers and was invented by Messina and her lawyers.

Bank of America Denies Existence of Alleged ‘Bro’s Club’ [Bloomberg]

Earlier: Senior Female Banker Accuses BofA Of Pay Discrimination, Front-Running, Assembling “Bro’s Club Of All-Male Sycophants”

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Bank Of America Knows What You Did At Denny's 14 Years Ago

And it's going to fire you without pay over them, realize they did so in error, not feel bad about it and tell you to shoot HR a cover letter and résumé if you'd like the opportunity to try and get your old job back. Paul Boudwin knows what we're talking about. Boudwin's ordeal began in July 2011, when the bank was reviewing its employment records to ensure it complied with new federal rules that, among other things, require a criminal background check for anyone who works at a mortgage originator. When he was hired by the bank in 2006, Boudwin disclosed what he says was a legal misunderstanding from his college days. He and his best friend ate breakfast at a Denny's in Scottsdale, Ariz., near the Arizona State University campus. The place was a student hangout, and after they finished their meal, they mingled with other friends for a while. Each assumed the other had paid the check. When they left the restaurant an hour or so later, a manager confronted them outside, accused them of walking the check and called the police. They were arrested, paid a $50 fine and the $20 tab, tip included. The charge was later dismissed. "There was no intent for not paying for an omelet," Boudwin said. When Bank of America's review last year turned up the information about the omelet incident that Boudwin disclosed when he was hired, it set off a bureaucratic process impervious to reason. In a letter included in the lawsuit, the bank said the charge amounted to a "disqualifying conviction" under the law, which prohibits anyone convicted of an offense involving dishonesty or breach of trust from working at a financial institution. Boudwin submitted court records showing the charges were dismissed. Bank officials assured him the matter would be sorted out, and the bank even filed for a waiver from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on his behalf, court records show. However, the bank said because of the new rules, Boudwin couldn't continue to work during the six to nine months it might take to get the waiver. He was put on an unpaid leave of absence, and his Wharton trip was canceled. He was told he would receive his back pay and bonus when he was reinstated, he said. In late February of this year, his boss called. Boudwin thought his ordeal was over and the FDIC had granted the waiver. Instead, his boss told him he was being fired. The bank was tired of waiting, he said his boss told him. Two weeks later, the FDIC granted the waiver, but Bank of America refused to reinstate Boudwin to his old position. He was welcome to reapply, but his seniority, bonus and back pay would be lost. Unfortunately for Bank of America, Boudwin decided that appealing as that sounded, he'd prefer to win the money owed to him in court, and filed suit against BofA last week. Will his case set a precedent for financial service employees wrongfully fired over misunderstandings at Denny's, IHOP, OHOP, and local diners everywhere? Stay tuned. Bank Lays Egg In Omelete Case [Chronicle] Paul Boudwin Fired By Bank Of America Over Denny's Omelet Dispute [HP]