Asset manager TCW Group has denied an ex-employee’s accusations of sexual harassment, claiming that fired fund manager Sara Tirschwell was dismissed for violating the firm’s compliance policies.
In a response to a lawsuit filed by Tirschwell on January 25, TCW executives David Lippman and Jess Ravich submitted statements on Tuesday denying that Tirschwell’s termination had anything to do with sexual misconduct or discrimination.
In the suit, Tirschwell had claimed that she was fired after her boss, Ravich, sexually harassed her and coerced her into having sex with him. She is seeking to recover at least $30 million in compensatory damages, according to court documents.
The new statement from TCW and Lippman, the firm’s chief executive, asserted that Tirschwell was fired on Dec. 14 after she “committed a repeat violation of company compliance policies and procedures.” TCW didn’t clarify what compliance policies Tirschwell had allegedly violated.
According to the TCW filing, Tirschwell was informed that “she was being discharged for gross negligence.”
In her initial lawsuit, Tirschwell claimed that Ravich would wear a white terry bathrobe to “breakfast meetings” that he set up to discuss business, and at these meetings made unwanted sexual advances.
When she stopped the breakfast meetings, Tirschwell said she was deprived resources needed for her job, including marketing support. She claimed she was fired nine days after complaining to human resources in December.
A separate response filed on behalf of Ravich denied that he ever approached Tirschwell for sex while she worked at TCW, and claimed that he never met with her while wearing a bathrobe.
“This is certainly not the first time that men in bathrobes have issued such initial denials,” a spokesperson for Tirschwell said via email. “The TCW defendants’ allegations 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.”
Tirschwell and Ravich both acknowledged in separate filings that they had been previously involved in a consensual relationship in 2012, which they both said Ravich disclosed to Lippman. However, Ravich and Lippmann denied that Lippman told Ravich that he did not want any “funny business” and to “keep [his] hands off of her,” as Tirschwell’s complaint alleged.
A lawyer for Ravich did not return a phone call seeking comment. A spokesperson for TCW declined to comment on the case.
The suit comes at a time of reckoning for all companies, as social movements like #MeToo and Time’s Up call for an end to workplace sexual harassment and assault. Still, Tirschwell’s suit is one of only few allegations to have emerged in the asset management industry so far.
Most recently, an employee at Steven Cohen’s investment firm, Point72 Asset Management, filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against the firm.
The suit, which was filed in a Manhattan federal court by Lauren Bonner, an associate director at Point72, described a hostile and discriminatory work environment in which women were paid less than male peers and kept out of leadership and decision-making roles. Since the suit’s filing, Cohen has asked the judge to dismiss the case on the basis that Bonner had agreed to address any such claims through arbitration.