President of Steven Cohen’s Investment Firm Quits Amid Gender Bias Lawsuit

A top executive at the investment firm led by the billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen has stepped down a month after a female employee sued the firm over accusations that it underpaid female employees and fostered a hostile work environment.

Douglas D. Haynes resigned as president of the firm, Point72 Asset Management, on Friday, according to five people briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly because the suit is continuing. Mr. Haynes, a former executive at McKinsey & Company who joined Point72 in 2014, is named as a defendant in the suit.

The firm confirmed Mr. Haynes’s departure to employees in a letter on Friday. In the letter, Mr. Cohen thanked Mr. Haynes for his work at Point72.

The letter, a copy of which was seen by two of the people who spoke to The New York Times, did not address the lawsuit or the allegations in it. The two people said that Mr. Haynes departure was not related to the litigation.

Mr. Haynes could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.

In the suit, which was filed last month in Federal District Court in Manhattan, Lauren Bonner, an associate director at the firm, said that Mr. Haynes had belittled women employees — calling one a “dumb blonde” — and had a whiteboard in his office on which the word “pussy” was written in large letters and left there for several weeks last year.

Point72, which is based in Stamford, Conn., said in a statement after the suit was filed that it “emphatically denies these allegations.” In court, lawyers for Mr. Cohen and Point72 have sought to move the matter to arbitration.

On Saturday, Ellen Davis, a Point72 spokeswoman, said, “The firm’s view remains that the lawsuit is without merit.”

When it was filed, Ms. Bonner’s suit threatened to complicate Mr. Cohen’s efforts to convert his $11 billion firm from an entity that manages only his family’s money into a hedge fund that would also manage $2 billion to $4 billion from outside investors. The suit was also among the most prominent to accuse a major Wall Street firm of workplace misconduct amid a national reckoning on sexual harassment.

Mr. Haynes was one of the first people Mr. Cohen hired after shutting down his former hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisors, after it pleaded guilty to insider trading charges and paid $1.8 billion in fines and penalties in 2014.

Mr. Haynes was brought in to serve as managing director for human capital but soon was named president. He was seen as an important figure in Mr. Cohen’s efforts to prove to federal authorities that Point72 would adhere to high ethical standards. That he was accused of belittling and being dismissive of women employees was significant given that he was brought in to help clean up the firm’s culture.

It is was unclear what impact Mr. Haynes’s resignation would have on Ms. Bonner’s suit, in which Mr. Cohen is also named as a defendant. In his letter to Point72 employees, Mr. Cohen said he would serve as the firm’s president while searching for a successor to Mr. Haynes.

Ms. Bonner’s suit does not accuse Mr. Cohen of behaving inappropriately toward women. It says that Point72’s female employees were, on average, paid much less than their male counterparts. It also notes that only one of the 125 portfolio managers of the firm’s roughly 1,000 employees was a woman.

Ms. Bonner’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment on Saturday.

Content originally published on https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/17/business/point72-douglas-haynes-steven-cohen.html by MATTHEW GOLDSTEIN and JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG