Bank of America was ordered to pay $2.2 million to black job applicants who were unfairly rejected for teller and clerical positions in a case spanning almost two decades, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

An administrative judge told the bank to pay $964,000 to more than 1,000 applicants from 1993 and $1.22 million to 113 people who were rejected in 2002 to 2005, the regulator said today in a statement. The lender also was ordered to make job offers to 10 people. The firm settled separate claims of racial and gender bias at its Merrill Lynch unit in the past month.

The Labor Department complaint stems from a routine review of hiring practices at an office in the firm's hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, according to the statement. After talks broke down, the government filed an administrative complaint in 1997, asserting the federally insured bank was subject to laws covering U.S. contractors, the agency said. The firm challenged that authority, according to the statement.

"This case demonstrates that the department will not be deterred in our pursuit of justice for job seekers," Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith said in the statement.

Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. lender by assets, said it's examining the recommended decision and order.

"Diversity and inclusion are part of our culture and core company values," said Christopher Feeney, a company spokesman. "We actively promote an environment where all employees have the opportunity to succeed."

Bank of America agreed last month to pay $160 million to settle a lawsuit filed by black financial advisers who said its Merrill Lynch unit didn't give them the same business opportunities as it did white financial advisers.

Earlier this month, the company agreed to pay $39 million to resolve a lawsuit brought on behalf of women financial advisers and licensed trainees who said Merrill Lynch discriminated in opportunities and compensation. Bank of America agreed to buy Merrill Lynch in 2008.

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