On May 4, 2017, an Illinois federal judge approved a $35.5 million settlement between Wells Fargo Advisors LLC and a group of African American employees who claimed that the bank discriminated against its African American financial advisors by excluding them from the most successful teams and the most lucrative accounts.
The class action case, Slaughter v. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC et al., was preliminarily approved in January, ending nearly four years of litigation. The settlement affects more than 320 current and former brokers, Advisorhub reported.
On September 5, 2013, Lance W. Slaughter, an African American financial advisor (FA) employed by Wells Fargo, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Chicago, alleging firm-wide race discrimination in employment against African Americans. Slaughter claimed that he and other African American brokers and trainees were denied business opportunities and excluded from high-producing teams because of their race. Additional named plaintiffs later joined the lawsuit, collectively referred to as “Named Plaintiffs” because they sought to represent a group of similarly situated African American FAs and trainees.
In 2014, Slaughter’s case was combined with other discrimination complaints against Wells Fargo advisors’ private client group and its in-bank branch brokerage programs, according to Advisorhub.
After nearly four years of litigation, U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber signed off on a settlement that provides a $35.5 million fund for the class of FAs and licensed FA trainees, as well as programmatic relief to increase opportunities for current African American FAs and FA trainees, outlined in the class notice.
Who is Eligible for the Class Action?
Under the settlement terms, any current or former African American financial advisor or trainee employed at Wells Fargo between September 4, 2009 and December 31, 2016, is eligible for an award.
Payments will be based on length of service at the Wells Fargo broker-dealer and personal experiences regarding account transfers, teaming, managerial support and other factors that will be evaluated by one or more independent “neutral” parties selected by Lynn Cohn, the special master appointed by the court. (Advisorhub)
What’s Next for Plaintiffs?
Settlement class members who submitted a claim form by the deadline of June 29, 2017, will have their claims reviewed by an independent third-party neutral. Claimants will also have the opportunity to meet with a neutral party for an interview session of up to 75 minutes in order to present aspects of his or her claims and answer questions.
After the neutral(s) has assessed a claim, he or she will recommend a monetary award, which will then be reviewed and approved by a special master appointed by the court to make sure they are fair and consistent. All monetary awards are final, binding, and non-appealable.
When Can Plaintiffs Expect Payout?
While the specific payout amounts and dates have not been announced, some plaintiffs expect the average award to be in the $50,000 range, with award letters anticipated sometime in July. Payment is expected to occur in the fall, though this could be delayed by several weeks or even months.
Resources for Plaintiffs
- Official class action website: http://www.wfafinancialadvisorracesettlement.com/
- Class Notice
- Claim Form and Tax Forms
- Complaint filed by the plaintiffs
Post-Settlement Funding on Your Wells Fargo Class Action Award or Legal Fee
A settlement doesn’t always mean a timely payment. Even after a settlement has been reached, plaintiffs can find themselves waiting months or even years to receive their awards. If you are a plaintiff involved in the Wells Fargo Class Action litigation, Thrivest Funding can help your cash flow situation by providing you with a post-settlement advance on your award.
As long as you have received your award letter, Thrivest can help you access your award payment now. If you think our post-settlement plaintiff funding could be the right fit for you, please call one of our lawsuit funding specialists at 888-697-7352, or complete an online application.