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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 November 2005, 02:59 GMT
Merrill pays out $2m for sexism
Merrill Lynch sign
Ms Gould's payout is thought to be the largest awarded by the NASD
Three former Merrill Lynch workers in the US have won a $2m (1m) payout from the broker over sex discrimination.

Audrey Gould alleged male colleagues drove away her customers after she brought her daughters into the business to keep her clients in the family.

Ms Gould and her daughters were awarded the payout in a ruling by the brokerage industry's private watchdog, the NASD.

In a statement, Merrill Lynch said it disagreed with the NASD's decision although it "respected the process".

The group added that it did not tolerate discrimination.

'Record award'

Ms Gould's lawyer, Linda Friedman said the award by the arbitration panel of the NASD - the self-regulating body of the brokerage and dealers - was the biggest sex discrimination payout in its history.

In its ruling, the NASD panel ordered Merrill Lynch to pay 72-year-old Ms Gould $1m, $500,000 to her daughter Georgeanne Moss and $150,00 to her other daughter Ellen Barber.

The group was also told to pay a further $330,000 in lawyer's fees and other costs.

Despite it being "common practice" for a father to bring in his sons to the business, Ms Gould had been targeted by complaints of regulatory violations after bringing in her daughters, her lawyer had argued.

Ms Gould worked for Merrill Lynch in Princeton, New Jersey, between 1982 and 2000 when she left to join Wachovia Securities.

Her complaint stated that by 1999 she and her daughters had amassed 1,000 clients together and produced $4m in revenues for Merrill Lynch - making Ms Gould one of the group's 50 highest earners for several years.

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