New York judge dismisses much of ex-TCW manager's sexual harassment lawsuit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York state judge dismissed a substantial portion of Sara Tirschwell’s sexual harassment lawsuit against her former employer, asset manager TCW Group Inc.

In a 63-page decision made public on Friday, Justice Robert Kalish in Manhattan Supreme Court dismissed three of Tirschwell’s five claims, including that TCW retaliated against her for complaining about alleged harassment by her former boss.

The judge also said Tirschwell cannot seek punitive damages, because she could not show the defendants acted with “conscious disregard” of her rights.

Tirschwell can still pursue claims that TCW violated a New York City law against sex discrimination and had no contractual right to fire her, and seek compensatory damages. She had sought at least $30 million in damages. Kalish’s decision is dated June 11.

“We’re proceeding forward with the litigation,” a spokesman for Tirschwell said.

TCW said it was “gratified” by the decision. The Los Angeles-based firm recently had about $217 billion of assets under management.

Tirschwell, a specialist in distressed investing, had joined TCW in 2016 to build a distressed debt fund, after 11 years at hedge fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management.

In her January 2018 complaint, Tirschwell said her former boss Jess Ravich, who led TCW’s alternative products group, had coerced her into having sex in return for advancing her career.

Tirscwhell said Ravich made “unwanted” sexual advances in breakfast meetings, where she said he often wore a bathrobe, and that she was “fearful” of refusing to comply, citing threats to deprive her of resources for her fund.

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

TCW has denied Tirschwell’s claims, and said it fired her for violating compliance policies. Ravich has said he never had or sought to have sex with Tirschwell. He has since left TCW.

Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli and Jonathan Stempel