Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund firm, filed court documents Wednesday seeking to push its ex co-chief executive officer’s discrimination lawsuit into arbitration.
The document is Bridgewater's first response to former co-CEO Eileen Murray's lawsuit against the company. According to that document, the two tried to work their differences out through a mediation before Murray went to court.
On July 14, Bloomberg broke the news that three months after leaving Bridgewater, Murray and the company were still negotiating her exit package. The article, citing one of Murray’s advisers, said Murray’s exit package was less than what Bridgewater paid men who left the firm and below the status of her position. This article prompted the mediation, which Bridgewater's response said was “unsuccessful.”
This ultimately led Murray to file a lawsuit on July 24 alleging that Bridgewater withheld her deferred compensation after she disclosed their ongoing gender discrimination, unequal pay, and breach of contract dispute to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which she became the chairperson of in late June.
On the same day, Bridgewater started an arbitration designed to address whether the firm could compel Murray to forfeit her rights to receive certain equity incentive benefits, according to Bridgewater’s August 11 filing.
In this filing, Bridgewater is asking the court to require Murray to work through the matter with the firm in arbitration, and as a result, to dismiss the case.
“The question for the arbitrator to decide is whether Murray’s disclosures are a breach of her confidentiality obligations that result in a forfeiture of her phantom equity under the plan,” according to Bridgewater’s filing. “This matter belongs in an arbitral forum, not before this (or any) court.”
For her part, Murray is seeking a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief from the court that says the company cannot forfeit those benefits, according to an amended complaint she filed on August 4.
In its Wednesday filing, Bridgewater cited an employment agreement Murray signed in 2017 that said Murray would have to undergo a “mandatory” two-step process to resolve a dispute. She would first have to submit her claims to a non-binding mediation. If those claims remained unresolved, then she would have to take them to a binding arbitration, according to Bridgewater’s filing.
“Murray was aware that she was giving up her right to a court or jury trial by signing the agreement,” Bridgewater's response said.
The company’s filing said that if the court decides it is appropriate, it wants the opportunity to present an oral argument based around this filing. A spokesperson for Murray declined to comment.
A spokesperson for Bridgewater reiterated a statement made to Institutional Investor on August 5: “We will continue to resolve this matter through the mutually agreed path rather than in the media.”