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Steve Cohen Asks Court to Dismiss Gender Discrimination Case

Cohen says the employee suing Point72 Asset Management had agreed to settle any claims through arbitration.

Steven Cohen has asked a U.S. federal court judge to dismiss a gender discrimination lawsuit filed against his firm, Point72 Asset Management.

Point72’s lawyer Victoria Woodin Chavey, a principal at law firm Jackson Lewis, filed a motion Wednesday to force Lauren Bonner, the employee suing Cohen and his firm, to settle her claims through out-of-court arbitration. The day before, Chavey had filed a motion requesting that the court documents be sealed. Chavey did not return a phone call seeking comment. 

The discrimination suit was filed on Monday by Bonner, an associate director at Point72. It claimed that the investment firm pays women less than their male peers, and keeps women out of leadership and decision-making roles. The court has ordered that Bonner respond to the request to seal the lawsuit by February 16. As of February 15, the court documents were still publicly available.

[II Deep Dive: Steve Cohen's Point72 Discriminated Against Women, Lawsuit Claims]

According to Cohen's filing, Bonner had signed a contract agreeing to use arbitration, or out-of-court negotiation, to settle any employment-related matters. The motion asked that the court either dismiss the lawsuit, or halt any legal proceedings until the conclusion of the arbitration.

Bonner’s attorney Michael Willemin, a partner at Wigdor LLP, did not return a phone call seeking comment on the matter. 

In her lawsuit, Bonner claimed she was paid less than a number of “less experienced and less qualified” men who managed fewer people than she did. Beyond these discrimination claims, the complaint also said that Point72 fostered a culture of sexual harassment, pointing to examples such as a whiteboard with the word “pussy” written across it, which allegedly hung in the office of Point72 president Doug Haynes for weeks.

The lawsuit comes at a crucial time for Cohen, who is raising money for a new hedge fund after a two-year ban from managing outside money. The timing also coincides with a cross-industry movement to call out sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, leading to the dismissal of high-profile men like Hollywood's Harvey Weinstein. Comparatively few sexual misconduct claims have come to light in asset management, but allegations have emerged against biotech hedge fund Orbimed Advisors and alternatives manager TCW Group.

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