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Point72 executive says sexism case belongs in U.S. court, not arbitration

NEW YORK, March 21 (Reuters) - A female executive at Steven A. Cohen's Point72 Asset Management LP on Wednesday urged a federal judge to reject the billionaire's effort to move her claims of "pervasive" sexism at the hedge fund firm into arbitration.

Point72 had contended that Lauren Bonner, its head of talent analytics, agreed to arbitrate her claims against the firm, Cohen and former President Douglas Haynes as a condition of her employment, which began in August 2016.

But in a Manhattan federal court filing, Bonner said her employment contract's arbitration clause is not all-encompassing, and does not cover her claims under the federal Equal Pay Act and state labor and human rights laws.

The defendants' position "defies common sense," Bonner said. "Defendants have demonstrated yet again that they will go to any and all lengths to keep their unlawful and discriminatory conduct shrouded in secrecy and concealed from public scrutiny."

Point72 spokeswoman Ellen Davis declined to comment. The Stamford, Connecticut-based firm is expected to address Wednesday's filing before U.S. District Judge Analisa Torres decides where Bonner should pursue her case.

Bonner's lawsuit contended that Point72 operates as a "boys' club," where men are paid better and women see their work and appearances denigrated, and seeks a variety of damages.

Point72 has denied the allegations and defended its treatment of women.

Cohen is worth $14 billion according to Forbes magazine, and has not been accused of inappropriate behavior.

Haynes' departure was announced last week. In a March 16 email to employees, Cohen said it followed Point72's having recently been cleared to accept outside money, rather than operate as a family office for Cohen's fortune.

This followed the expiration of a two-year ban linked to a prior insider trading case involving Cohen's former firm, SAC Capital Advisors LP. Cohen was not criminally charged.

"Doug and I have taken stock and agreed that this is a natural point to make way for a new, different type of leader," Cohen wrote in the March 16 email, according to a spokeswoman.

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 Editing by Tom Brown)