Merrill Broker Expects Ruling Soon

Hydie Sumner, one of the remaining 50 or so registered reps who sued Merrill Lynch for gender discrimination, is expected to hear a decision from an arbitration panel within the next few weeks. Among remedies to her claims proposed by her lawyers a monetary award being the most obvious choice is one very surprising one: that Sumner be reinstated as a manager at Merrill Lynch. Sumner's attorney, Mary

Hydie Sumner, one of the remaining 50 or so registered reps who sued Merrill Lynch for gender discrimination, is expected to hear a decision from an arbitration panel within the next few weeks.

Among remedies to her claims proposed by her lawyers — a monetary award being the most obvious choice — is one very surprising one: that Sumner be reinstated as a manager at Merrill Lynch.

Sumner's attorney, Mary Stowell, of Stowell & Friedman of Chicago, deems a return to Merrill an unlikely possibility, because Sumner already works for another brokerage firm. “My best guess is that it's unlikely” that the panel would include such a move in a settlement, Stowell says. However, she says, “I don't want to say it's only a legal remedy and nothing else.”

Indeed, Sumner, a rep at Merrill Lynch from 1991 to 1997, has sounded decidedly un-legalistic in her statements about the matter. She declined to comment on the record for this article, but was quoted in the San Antonio Express-News as saying her “experience and knowledge can help make a difference” at Merrill.

Sumner's hearings began in October and continued through December. Final briefs related to the case were due to the arbitration panel in mid-February.

Fewer than 50 cases against Merrill are outstanding from an original 900-member class action suit against the firm. Most of those were settled in the late 1990s; Stowell & Friedman represent the majority of the remaining litigants.

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