A veteran financial advisor is suing Merrill Lynch and her former boss there for alleged sex discrimination.

In New York State Supreme Court, in New York County, Elizabeth Tavel filed a lawsuit that alleged the investment banking and wealth management giant, which is owned by Bank of America, and one of its managers systematically denied her opportunities for compensation that were given to male colleagues.

Bill Halldin, a spokesperson for Merrill Lynch-Bank of America, said, “We thoroughly reviewed Ms. Tavel’s prior complaints while she was with the company and found there was no merit to them. We will respond and defend our position in an upcoming filing at the appropriate time.”

Tavel, who started her career with Oppenheimer in 1993, according to Finra's BrokerCheck, joined Merrill Lynch in October 2017 with a base salary plus commissions and bonuses under a referral incentive program. Her Finra records show that she was discharged by Merrill for “failure to disclose an outside business activity.”

In January 2018, Matthew Grossman, named as a codefendant in the lawsuit, became supervisor of her branch. According to the suit, Grossman began “actively sabotaging” Tavel’s business to “ensure that she, unlike similarly situated male financial representatives, did not receive referral fees or credit for the substantial institutional, retail, and international business that she brought into the firm.”

From then on, the suit alleges, she “never received credit or referral fees for either the institutional or the retail accounts she brought into the firm” even though her referrals generated about $7.5 million in annual revenue for the firm.

On February 19, 2019, Grossman told her directly that she had to “figure out what to do with her career” while her male colleagues continued getting incentives for referrals, according to the lawsuit.

She kept attempting to receive credit for the institutional clients she had already brought to the firm, in addition to new ones, the lawsuit alleged. Then, in July 2019, she was told that she could not receive any credit for those referrals and would have to “start from scratch,” the lawsuit states.

By the end of 2019, Grossman told her that only men on the team would receive credit for the institutional accounts that she had brought to the firm, the lawsuit alleged.

During the Covid pandemic, when the office was closed, her male colleagues were allowed in to access their files but she was denied the same privilege, she contends in the lawsuit.

On January 21, 2022, she filed a formal discrimination complaint with the firm’s human resources department. After an investigation, the department ruled that there had been no discrimination, the lawsuit states.

Grossman fired her on October 17, 2022, telling her she had “violated firm policy” and a “negative disclosure” would be placed on her Form U5, the lawsuit alleges. The suit claims the firing was retaliatory and will “severely hinder her ability to obtain another job.”


Tavel found a new position with Alliance Global Partners earlier this year, according to the lawsuit.

Tavel is accusing Merrill Lynch and Grossman of violating the New York Equal Pay Act and human rights laws for New York City and the state. She is also allegeging she was discriminated against by being given lower pay than her male colleagues. The suit further charges that the defendants’ conduct was “intentional, deliberate, willful, malicious, reckless, and conducted in callous disregard” of her rights.

She also alleges that she’s been subjected to humiliation and emotional distress and is demanding back pay, reimburse for legal expenses, and unspecified punitive damages. The lawsuit asks for a jury trial.

Tavel, her attorney and Grossman did not respond to a request for comment.