In the first of what we imagine could be avalanche of sexual discrimination and harassment lawsuits filed against the largest hedge funds (recall the creepy labor board complaint alleging harassment by a male employee at Bridgewater back in 2016), Lauren Bonner, an associate director at Steve Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management, has filed a lawsuit complaining of sexist mistreatment and harassment, that she was excluded from meetings at the “boy’s club” and that she was paid less than her male peers.
The New York Times reported that, though it couldn’t verify many of the complaints, several former Point72 employees admitted that the firm “isn’t an easy place” for women.
Some of the allegations in the report drew shocked commentary on Twitter. Here’s a roundup of some of the most egregious ones courtesy of Axios and the NYT:
President Douglas Haynes allegedly had the word “Pussy” written on a board in his office for weeks while female employees had to attend meetings in the room.
Some members of the all-male hiring committee for investment pros allegedly said they won’t hire women because their “wives won’t let them.” There are almost no senior women at the company.
The woman who filed the lawsuit says she was passed over for promotion multiple times.
Chief operating officer Tim Shaughnessy allegedly frequently holds meetings labeled as “no girls allowed.”
Women at times earn less than $0.50 for each dollar earned by male employees, per the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also noted the massive gender disparity of the staff: Out of 125 portfolio managers at Point72, only one is a woman, the lawsuit says. Firmwide, some 21% of new hires last year were female, with most hired into relatively junior roles, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit also accused Mark Herr, the firm’s head of corporate communications, of making degrading comments about women.
Women were often referred to as “girls” or “sweetheart”.
The suit also alleges that, when Point72 hired women (which it rarely did), they were treated poorly and subjected to crude and sexist remarks. And for the few women who were hired at the firm, working conditions could be unreasonably demanding: The lawsuit even alleges that one female employee was forced to assemble a PowerPoint deck 48 hours after giving birth. Bonner is being represented by Wigdor LLP, which represented many Fox News and 21st Century Fox employees in their settlements with the company.
“This lawsuit proves that #MeToo is just getting started, and Wall Street will not be spared,” one of Ms. Bonner’s lawyers, Jeanne M. Christensen, told the Times.
Ms. Bonner is part of a recruitment analytics team at Point72 and supervises 14 people. She previously worked at Bridgewater.
The lawsuit comes at a bad time for Cohen: His four-year ban from managing outside money expired at the beginning of this year, and his firm is in the process of raising outside capital to start trading again. It has reportedly raised between $2 billion and $4 billion. Cohen has tried to mitigate legal risks at the firm by bringing in former federal prosecutors to oversee compliance. This new compliance squad sits out on the trading floor, where they reportedly monitor traders’ correspondences.
According to the suit, the top executives were aware of these disparities, but did nothing: It quotes one top executive at the firm as saying “the reality is this is just a really tough place for women, and that’s not going to change.”
The Fortune reporter who published a softball profile on Cohen two years ago that portrayed him as an unfairly persecuted investing savant once again came to his defense, pointing out that Cohen himself isn’t described as mistreating women (though he is named in the lawsuit) and that the billionaire’s love and respect for his wife is widely recognized…
— Jen Wieczner (@jenwieczner) February 13, 2018
Read the full lawsuit below:
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