NEW YORK: A female executive at billionaire Steven A. Cohen's Point72 Asset Management LP on Monday filed a lawsuit accusing the firm of operating as a "boys' club" that subjects women to a openly hostile working environment and pays them less than men.
Lauren Bonner, an associate director, said a "structural sexism" pervades Point72, where women are denigrated by even high-level employees, including a top executive who declares "no girls allowed" in advance of some meetings.
Cohen was not accused of inappropriate behavior.
Bonner is seeking a variety of damages and an injunction against further discrimination in her lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan against Point72, Cohen and the firm's president, Douglas Haynes.
"The firm emphatically denies these allegations and will defend itself in a more appropriate venue than the media," Point72, which is based in Stamford, Connecticut, said in a statement.
"We stand by our record of hiring and developing women," Point72 added. "In an industry where women are historically under-represented, the hundreds of women at Point72 are vital members of every part of our organization."
Cohen has been trying to rebuild his reputation and attract money from investors after his former hedge fund firm, SAC Capital Advisors LP, pleaded guilty in an unrelated insider trading case in 2014.
Cohen was not charged by authorities in that case, but accepted a two-year ban from managing public money that expired six weeks ago. Point72 managed his personal fortune during the ban.
Bonner is represented by the Wigdor law firm, which also represents plaintiffs in several sexual harassment and employment-related lawsuits against Twenty-First Century Fox Inc and Fox News.
According to the complaint by Bonner, a New York resident who joined Point72 in August 2016, only one of the firm's 125 portfolio managers and one of its roughly 30 managing directors is a woman, while its hiring committee is exclusively male.
She also said that while she could earn up to US$525,000 in salary and bonus this year, men often earn two or three times as much as their female counterparts.
Bonner also objected to Point72's alleged "sexist and misogynist treatment" of women, citing as an example a whiteboard in Haynes' office that contained the word "pussy" for several weeks.
"Female employees were humiliated and ashamed as they were forced to work and participate in meetings held in Haynes's office, including with other male executives, as the Pussy Board drifted above them, taunting them with repulsive references to their own bodies," she said.
The case is Bonner v Point72 Asset Management LP et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 18-01233.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Additional reporting by Jennifer Ablan; editing by Clive McKeef)