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Ex-TCW Employee Files Appeal in Sexual Harassment Suit

Sara Tirschwell’s appeal reveals new details about her firing.

Months after a New York judge dismissed her claims that TCW Group retaliated against her, ex-fund manager Sara Tirschwell has filed an appeal.  

Tirschwell sued TCW, its chief executive officer, David Lippman, and her boss Jess Ravich, in January 2018, alleging that she was fired after filing a human resources complaint regarding alleged sexual harassment. The appeal, filed December 7 in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, reveals new details about Tirschwell’s allegations. 

Tirschwell previously alleged that Ravich had made unwanted sexual advances at “breakfast meetings” that he set up to discuss business. In his original response to Tirschwell’s lawsuit, Ravich denied having sex with or sexually pursuing Tirschwell.

However, during the discovery process, Tirschwell produced texts from Ravich, one of which allegedly said, “At whiskey tasting. If [S]cott weren’t staying over....” Others indicated that Tirschwell left her hairbrush at his apartment. According to the appeal, TCW allegedly admitted that the texts were not appropriate, as did one board member, who originally called the complaint “fake news.” 

When Tirschwell stopped the breakfast meetings, she was no longer given resources like marketing support to help her raise capital for the distressed debt fund she had been hired to oversee, according to the original complaint. 

Tirschwell alleges in the appeal that after she stopped the nonconsensual sexual relationship, Ravich told TCW’s human resources team to reach out to three male employees “in order to elicit stories from them about bad behavior by Tirschwell.” The male staff allegedly used terms like “difficult,” “entitled,” “emotional,” and “dramatic” to describe Tirschwell to HR.   

Tirschwell’s original complaint said that nine days after speaking with HR about the sexual harassment, she was fired. TCW denied these allegations and said that Tirschwell had violated compliance policies at the company. This, according to statements filed by TCW and Lippman, was why Tirschwell was fired.  

“Sara Tirschwell was dismissed for cause due to repeated, documented compliance violations, and had made no complaint of any kind before it was clear she was being dismissed,” a spokesperson for TCW said via email Wednesday. 

The new appeal alleges that HR did not investigate Tirschwell’s complaint before she was fired because Ravich was the lead negotiator for a lucrative deal. In December 2017, weeks after Tirschwell filed her complaint to HR, Nippon Life Insurance Co. completed its purchase of a 24.75 percent stake in TCW from Carlyle Group. The appeal alleges that the deal was to provide a “huge payday” for Lippman and his team.   

[II Deep Dive: Former Fund Manager Files Sexual Harassment Suit Against TCW]

In June, a New York judge dismissed certain claims Tirschwell brought against TCW, Lippman, and Ravich, including claims that they violated New York City Human Rights Law and that TCW breached an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The judge had also said Tirschwell cannot seek punitive damages. These dismissals are what Tirschwell is now appealing.   

“What I think this case shows is why women in this industry are afraid to complain,” said Tirschwell’s attorney, Steve Storch, by phone Wednesday. “It’s a male-dominated industry and if they complain, bad things happen to them.” 

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