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Business roundup: Bank of America settles gender bias suit; Volkswagen and UAW in talks

Bank of America settles gender suit

Bank of America agreed to pay $39 million to settle a gender bias lawsuit by female brokers who claimed they were paid less than men and deprived of handling their fair share of lucrative accounts, court papers made public Friday show.

The settlement was disclosed less than two weeks after news that the bank reached a $160 million settlement with hundreds of black Merrill Lynch brokers who alleged racial bias in pay, promotions and the allocation of big accounts.

About 4,800 current and former female financial advisers and trainees at Bank of America and Merrill, which the bank bought in January 2009, are eligible for the latest settlement.

The lawsuit filed on their behalf accused Bank of America and Merrill of intentionally discriminating by favoring male brokers when awarding pay, allocating client accounts and referrals, and providing professional and marketing support.

— Reuters

Cities with the most active startup scenes. (Tobey/The Washington Post/Source: Seedtable)
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Volkswagen and the United Auto Workers said they are in talks about the union’s bid to represent workers at the German carmaker’s Tennessee plant, which would be a milestone in the UAW’s long-running effort to organize foreign-owned auto plants. “In the U.S., a works council can only be realized together with a trade union,” Frank Fischer, chief executive at the plant, said Thursday in a letter to the 2,500 Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga. “This is the reason why Volkswagen has started a dialogue with the UAW in order to check the possibility of implementing an innovative model of employee representation for all employees.”

Smithfield Foods’ acquisition by China’s Shuanghui International Holdings received approval from the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, the companies said Friday. Shuanghui International offered in May to buy Smithfield, the world’s biggest hog producer, for $4.7 billion in the largest-ever Chinese acquisition of a U.S. company. The Committee on Foreign Investment is an interagency, executive-branch panel that examines foreign investment for potential threats to national security.

Yogurt maker Chobani said Friday that the mold that triggered a recall of some of its Greek yogurt cups this week is not associated with food-borne illnesses such as salmonella or E. coli. The company identified the mold as Mucor circinelloides, a common species that usually affects fruits, vegetables and other plants. It has been linked to previous cases of spoiled yogurt. Chobani formally recalled more than a half-dozen yogurt varieties Thursday. The products have the code 16-012 and expiration dates from Sept. 11 to Oct. 7.

Verizon Communications has been sued by a shareholder who wants to void its $130 billion buyout of Vodafone Group’s stake in the companies’ wireless joint venture on the grounds that the price is too high. In a lawsuit filed in a New York state court Thursday, three days after the transaction was announced, Natalie Gordon said Verizon shareholders were being “shortchanged” by the purchase of Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless.

The Energy Department said Friday that it will lose about $42 million on a loan to a now-shuttered Michigan company that made vans for the disabled. Vehicle Production Group, or VPG, suspended operations in February and laid off 100 workers. The company had paid back $5 million of a $50 million federal loan this spring, and the remainder of its debt was sold at auction this week to Humvee manufacturer AM General, which paid $3 million to buy the loan.

— From news services



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