June 18, 2020 / 10:17 PM / 13 days ago

Ex-TCW fund manager appeals dismissal of sexual harassment claims

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former fund manager Sara Tirschwell on Thursday appealed a New York state judge’s dismissal of the bulk of her sexual harassment lawsuit against her former employer, asset manager TCW Group Inc.

Justice Robert Kalish of the Manhattan Supreme Court had on June 11 dismissed Tirschwell’s claim that TCW fired her in retaliation for her complaints to its human resources department about her former boss Jess Ravich’s alleged harassment.

The judge also said Tirschwell could not seek punitive damages, often a major component of employment cases.

TCW declined to comment. The Los Angeles-based company has denied Tirschwell’s claims, and said it fired her for compliance violations. It recently had $217 billion of assets under management.

“As Mr. Ravich has said previously, there was no greater supporter of Ms. Tirschwell at TCW than Mr. Ravich and her continued assault on his good name and reputation is both frivolous and insulting,” said Robert Sacks, an attorney for Ravich.

Kalish said Tirschwell could pursue claims that TCW committed sex discrimination and had no contractual right to fire her, and could seek compensatory damages.

Steven Storch, a lawyer for Tirschwell, said in a statement a jury should hear all her claims, including for punitive damages, after “reviewing the evidence supporting her claims of sexual harassment she endured.”

The appeal will be considered by New York state’s Appellate Division, also in Manhattan.

Tirschwell, who specializes in distressed investing, joined TCW in 2016 to build a distressed debt fund.

In her January 2018 complaint, she accused Ravich of coercing her into having sex in return for advancing her career, and said she was “fearful” of resisting because of threats to deprive her of resources for her fund.

Tirschwell said that after reporting Ravich’s behavior to human resources, TCW “manufactured” reasons to fire her.

Ravich has said he never had or sought to have sex with Tirschwell. He has since left TCW.

Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli; Additional reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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