Recently, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith (“Merrill Lynch”) settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of a potential class of 12,000 client associates who sought damages for unpaid overtime work compensation between 2010 and 2012. Merrill Lynch client associates supported and assisted Merrill Lynch financial advisors in servicing clients and developing new business. Merrill Lynch client associates are general licensed and registered representatives. The potential class of 12,000 client associates was derived of four state law classes in Maryland, Washington, New York and California, and one federal class that covers all other client associates not employed in one of those four states. Recovery by the individual class members will be computed based upon a formula taking into account the client associates’ individual circumstances and work experiences. Now that the settlement agreement has been finalized, it will be reviewed for approval by the District Court for the Southern District of New York. If the settlement is approved by the Southern District Court of New York, class members will need to decide whether or not to opt-in, which means potential class members will need to determine whether or not they will participate in the settlement in order to receive a portion of the recovery. The decision whether or not to opt-into a class action settlement can often times be difficult as many individual rights are affected by this decision. An individual who decides to opt-out of the class action settlement will not be bound by the result of the class action settlement as they will not share in the recovery, however, they will then have the opportunity to pursue individual claims on their own behalf. Merrill Lynch client associates who are FINRA registered representatives, and who decide to opt-out of the class action settlement, can presumably pursue individual claims regarding their unpaid overtime compensation with Merrill Lynch, a FINRA member firm, in a FINRA arbitration.
Lax & Neville LLP has represented individuals, securities industry employees and financial services professionals nationwide in employment matters and securities-related and commercial litigation, including bonus, severance and over-time disputes, as well as analyzed various employment and independent contractor agreements. Please contact our team of attorneys for a consultation at (212) 696-1999.