People’s United has ended a discrimination lawsuit.
BOSTON BUSINESS JOURNAL
By Greg Ryan – Senior Reporter, Boston Business Journal
Mar 3, 2022
People’s United Bank this week settled a lawsuit claiming employees suffered racial and other types of discrimination at the hands of the lender’s senior Massachusetts leadership, more than a year and a half after the explosive litigation was filed.
The Connecticut–based bank (Nasdaq: PBCT) and the five plaintiffs remaining in the suit agreed to end the case, according to a court filing on Wednesday. The filing did not include settlement terms.
An attorney for the plaintiffs, Travis Pregent, declined to comment on the terms. A People’s United spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.
The deal comes as the bank continues to await regulatory approval for its $7.6 billion acquisition by Buffalo, New York–based M&T Bank (NYSE: MTB). That transaction was initially expected to close by the end of 2021, but it has dragged on through most of 2022’s first quarter. There was speculation last year that the Federal Reserve was taking longer than usual to review large bank mergers because Fed chair Jerome Powell’s job status was in limbo at the time. Powell was reappointed as chair in November.
Six one–time People’s United Bank employees, most of them managers, brought the suit in the summer of 2020, alleging that executives repeatedly discriminated against people of color and other workers and retaliated against them when they complained. The actions allegedly went beyond racial discrimination to include religious, gender and anti–gay biases.
According to the lawsuit, one senior vice president, Anna Greener, said an African– American branch manager “dresses like a hood girl” and called her “ghetto.” She allegedly told another African–American manager that she does not “take orders from Negroes,” and a Muslim employee that she hoped she was not a terrorist, the suit said.
People’s United has from the outset disputed the allegations, with CEO Jack Barnes denying “all allegations of discrimination” and vowing to “vigorously defend against the lawsuit.”
Last year, the bank was able to knock one ex–employee’s allegations from the lawsuit on procedural grounds, but the judge allowed claims from the others to move forward.
People’s United is one of the Bay State’s 10 largest deposit holders, with $9.7 billion in
deposits in Massachusetts as of mid–2021.