Former MD sues CVC Capital over gender discrimination

By Staff Writer

Feb 15, 2016 10:56 PM EST

Lisa Lee, a former Managing Director of CVC Capital Partners (US) Inc, has filed a gender-discrimination case against the private equity (PE) firm. Lee has alleged that the firm was favoring male employees in more of unfair way and she suffered from gender-discrimination. 

Lisa Lee was Managing Director for investor-relations group at CVC Capital Partners Inc in New York. Criticizing the company's measures in promoting less qualified male co-workers over her, she lodged a complaint in a US District Court for New York's Southern District. She also said in her complaint that she was shouldered out of several responsibilities, while she was on maternity leave.  

Market Watch reports that there's huge gender imbalance at the company's top management. She also found fault with the company's decision in transferring many responsibilities of her to male colleagues. A spokesperson at CVC Capital said in a statement that "the claims by this former employee are without merit and we'll defend our position vigorously." Lee further alleged that female staff has to endure a sexually hostile work environment. 

CVC Capital Partners' course case came into light in less than a year of similar case against venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers was highlighted the gender issues in the Silicon Valley. Lee further explained in the legal suit that she was fired for raising voice against the gender discrimination and indecent treatment to female staff. Ellen Pao, an executive in Silicon Valley last year complained against a closely watched bias case against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. 

The 42-year-old New Jersey resident Lisa Lee is a Harvard Business School graduate. She's an Asian American and was working at CVC Capital Partners since October 2009. She was the only female among 37 CVC Managing Directors and senior Managing Directors at the different private equity divisions. Lisa Lee is seeking compensation as the wrongful acts of the company have cost her over $10 million..

Generally, discrimination cases in the financial services segment are rare as plaintiffs fear about the consequences in their career prospects. Ellen Pao's case and latest Lisa Lee's law suit come as gender equality in private equity and venture capital segments is becoming a cause of concern. Ellen Pao in 2015 lost the sexual discrimination suit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Pao has agreed not to appeal the decision and to pay Kleiner Perkin's court cost of $276,000, according to Dow Jones.

Throughout 2014, Lee had complained to CVC about systemic sexual discrimination in the office. In January 2015, CVC capital informed Lee that the company was terminating her employment as part of ongoing restructuring exercise. This happened a day after she filed a written complaint about gender discrimination in the company. 

Three months after termination, Lee joined Providence Equity Partners LLC in June 2015. Subsequently, CVC claims that Lee had broken a non-compete agreement and forfeited her unvested shares in the company. This is expected to cause a denial of over $10 million in compensation to Lee, as reported by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). 

Lisa Lee gave birth to twins in 2012. After she reported back to office, the company was in the process of reassigning her accounts to other male colleagues. Lee criticized the company for not discussing this with her before maternity leave. In her legal complaint, Lee further said that during a company's holiday party, senior executive inappropriately touched her. 

Lee criticized the holiday parties the way they're conducted. Female staff is forced to dance with them in an inappropriate manner. Lee was also denied over $10 million in compensation to be given in course of termination. 

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