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TCW claims it fired female fund manager for compliance violations

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Portfolio manager Sara Tirschwell, who claims she was fired from TCW Group Inc in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment, was terminated for violating company compliance policies, the asset management firm said in court papers on Tuesday.

Tirschwell last month sued for $30 million in damages, claiming that TCW fired her after she complained that her boss, Jess Ravich, sexually harassed her and “coerced” her into sex.

The lawsuit filed in a New York state court in Manhattan also named Ravich, TCW’s head of alternative products, and chief executive David Lippman as defendants.

But Los Angeles-based TCW, one of the largest U.S. asset managers, denied it had retaliated against Tirschwell, or that it had committed gender-based discrimination or harassment.

The firm said Tirschwell was let go in December for cause after she again violated company policies and procedures, following a “troubling history of compliance violations predating any complaint of harassment.” She had been previously warned she could be fired, the firm said.

She also had not raised required funding from investors for the firm’s distressed asset fund, TCW said, and the firm had determined in November, before she complained about harassment, that it would not renew her contract.

Tirschwell joined TCW in 2016 after spending 11 years at the hedge fund Davidson Kempner Capital Management.

She said in her complaint that Ravich, whom she once dated, would invite her to his apartment for breakfast meetings, where he would wear a white terry bathrobe and make sexual advances, and that she was fearful her career would suffer if she refused to comply.

In a separate filing, Ravich said while Tirschwell was with TCW, he never had or sought to have sex with her, never met her while wearing a bathrobe and was not involved in TCW’s decision to discharge her.

After learning that TCW would not renew her contract, Tirschwell “must have felt that she had run out of options,” and “concocted a story that is false,” Ravich said.

A spokesman for Tirschwell said the filings “speak to why women in this industry are afraid to come forward. They know that what awaits them will be a smear campaign intended to silence them and destroy their careers.”

Dozens of men have been fired or resigned from jobs in politics, media, entertainment and business over the last few months after facing sexual misconduct allegations, including Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and broadcaster Charlie Rose.

Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli; Editing by Cynthia Osterman