A Fort Worth advisor has filed a lawsuit against Merrill Lynch and parent Bank of America arguing that the way sales assistants are paid creates unfair conflicts of interest.
Nancy Martignano, whose title is formally "retirement and wealth advisor," could be joined by up to 5,000 other Merrill sales assistants in her looming fight with the firm.
Her lawyers claim that the way Merrill pays assistants -- low base, bonus dictated by the advisor they work with -- is unfair and exploitative.
Because most of their compensation depends entirely on keeping their immediate boss happy, they are tempted to bend the firm's rules to do so.
This includes working overtime. And while most advisors would come under the heading of "highly compensated" employees exempt from overtime rules, sales assistants' pay tends to top out under $80,000.
The suit also argues that women are pushed into the assistant role, making this a gender discrimination issue as well.
Merrill says it will fight.