Big Brother is watching at the world’s biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates. Some of the little brothers are crying foul.
That’s the general idea of the complaint filed by one of Bridgewater’s former employees, which offers a rare look into the culture of the secretive hedge fund. That complaint, filed with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in January and obtained by the New York Times, depicts a world of surveillance and tight control.
Christopher Tarui, a 34-year-old Bridgewater employee, alleged in the complaint that Bridgewater was a “cauldron of fear and intimidation,” and said that his male supervisor had tried to ask him for sex for a year and talked about sex during work-related excursions. The complaint further alleges that employees are constantly watched, whether by video of patrolling guards.
The Times noted that other allegations in his complaint were also corroborated via interviews with seven former employees or people who had worked with the firm. In one case, several of these employees noted a nightmarish experience in which the firm tried to teach new hires about Bridgewater’s culture of open disagreement. The fund showed these hires of a video of a female manager breaking down in tears after being confronted by top executives including founder Ray Dalio. The video is no longer shown at the firm, the people told the publication.
In March however, Tarui in conjunction with Bridgewater, withdrew the complaint from the human rights commission, with no clear reason stated—putting a stop to that investigation.
But that didn’t put an end to Bridgewater’s legal woes. In a separate, though related complaint in June, the National Labor Relations Board alleged that Bridgewater “has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights” through its confidentiality agreement that is signed upon employment. That agreement requires Bridgewater employees to settle any disputes outside of court.
The NLRB further alleged that Tarui was indefinitely suspended from employment by Bridgewater in January, just days before filing the complaint, because he had threatened to file charges with the board.
Bridgewater denies those allegations, and has asked for those claims to be dismissed.
Despite the odd working conditions at Bridgewater, it seems few employees want to openly criticize the company, even without using their names. The Times’ reporters said they were only able to get seven former employees to talk to them for the story, all only off the record. The Times was also not able to independently verify the claims against Bridgewater. The Times cited confidentiality agreements for its relatively lack of sources.