Former Bridgewater Co-CEO escalates gender discrimination feud with firm

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Bridgewater former co-chief executive officer Eileen Murray escalated a feud over her departure, accusing the $138 billion firm founded by billionaire Ray Dalio of threatening to withhold her deferred compensation because she went public with gender discrimination allegations.

Murray, 62, has been negotiating with the world’s biggest hedge fund for three months over her exit package — a fight that has dragged on because Bridgewater’s offer was less than what has been paid to men who left the firm and below the status of her position, according to one of Murray’s advisers. It was the third time since 2017 that the firm had offered her compensation that was lower than that of male colleagues of comparable levels, according to the person.

In her suit, filed Friday in federal court in Connecticut, Murray says the firm told her in writing on July 14 that her public disclosures about her dispute with the company will lead to forfeiture of her deferred compensation, which she said could range from $20 million to $100 million. She called the firm’s attempt to withhold the deferred pay an “improper gambit to silence her voice” and a “cynical plan to intimidate and silence her.”

Murray has joined several boards since she left Bridgewater in April, including being elected chairman of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority in June. She said that and other business opportunities required her to disclose the existence of her gender discrimination, unequal pay and breach-of-contract dispute with Bridgewater.

Bridgewater didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Murray joined Bridgewater in 2009 and became co-CEO two years later. When she departed in April she was the lone woman among the top four non-investment executives at the firm, and the longest tenured other than Dalio.

Murray also stands as a role model for women, the suit said, and she “feels a personal duty to uphold the principles of fair and equal treatment that she has publicly avowed for women in the workplace.”

Bridgewater can play hardball with employees. In late 2017, the firm took two former staffers to arbitration, accusing them of stealing trade secrets. Earlier this month, arbitrators found the company brought the case in bad faith to slow the duo’s progress in opening their own money management firm, according to a filing in New York state court. Bridgewater said it accepted the panel’s decision.

Bridgewater’s main hedge fund lost 20.6% in the first half of this year, and the firm said on Friday it’s planning job cuts because it won’t need the same number of support staff as more employees work from home and new technologies are changing the types of people it needs to serve clients.

The case is Murray v Bridgewater Associates, 20-cv-1052, U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut.

Bloomberg News
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