Merrill Seeks Denial of Complex Manager’s Homophobia Suit
Merrill Lynch has asked a California Superior Court judge to deny a sexual orientation discrimination complaint brought by former complex manager David V. Hunt.
Merrill’s decision to dismiss the downtown Los Angeles manager last August after 23 years with the broker-dealer was a “just and proper exercise of managerial discretion, undertaken for fair and honest reasons,” Merrill said in its response to Hunt’s suit that alleged anti-gay bias by firm employees.
Merrill, which was named along with former Southwest market executive Benjamin Prince as defendants, asserted that it acted in “good faith” and within its bounds as an at-will employer when it fired Hunt.
“Defendants deny generally and specifically each and every allegation in Plaintiff’s unverified complaint,” Merrill wrote in the February court filing. It asked the court to deny Hunt’s complaint and pay its legal costs and attorneys’ fees.
The trial has been scheduled for December 2017, according to court records.
Merrill asked for denial of the complaint and assessment of its legal costs and attorneys’ fees to Hunt.
The former manager has worked since December at a Beverly Hills office of Wells Fargo Advisors, according to his BrokerCheck history.
His complaint alleged that Prince, who last week was promoted by Merrill Lynch Wealth head Andy Sieg to run a new community markets division, displayed homophobic behavior between 2015 and 2016. It also said that some human resources officials ignored his complaints and “condoned and perpetuated a sexually hostile and intimidating work environment for plaintiff and other employees of homosexual orientation.”
A Merrill spokesman earlier told AdvisorHub that the firm promptly investigated Hunt’s allegations after his lawyer raised them and found no evidence to support them.
The spokesman said Merrill fired Hunt for violating corporate hiring practices. Hunt’s lawsuit alleges that Merrill inaccurately told regulators he was dismissed for violating an anti-bribery policy, a reference that an insider said referred to his encouraging a colleague to hire an acquaintance of a good customer.