Point72 Complaint Ignites Discussion on Relevant Facts in “Hostile Environment” Lawsuits

In this era of heightened sensitivity to claims of sexual harassment, executives and managers in the asset management industry are likely to view with concern the complaint recently filed against billionaire Steven A. Cohen’s firm, Point72 Asset Management. The plaintiff, Point72 associate director Lauren Bonner, has alleged that Point72’s working environment was distinctly unwelcoming for female employees; that Bonner and other women at the firm suffered months-long hostile, demeaning and intimidating treatment; and that Point72 discriminated against Bonner by favoring male colleagues with regard to pay and promotions. While the allegations in the complaint are serious, the nature of the complaint has raised the eyebrows of some analysts, who have claimed that it includes dozens of inflammatory charges whose relevance to the treatment allegedly suffered by Bonner is often far from clear. To cast light on these issues and offer practical steps that asset managers can take to avoid similar legal trouble, this article analyzes the complaint and presents commentary from legal professionals with expertise in anti-discrimination law. For coverage of another lawsuit relating to harassment at a fund manager, see “Portfolio Manager Accuses Former Employer and Supervisor of Retaliation for Reporting Sexual Harassment” (Feb. 15, 2018).

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