Fund manager alleges TCW fired her after she accused an executive of coercing her into sex
A former fund manager at TCW is suing the large Los Angeles asset management firm for $30 million, saying she was fired after lodging a sexual harassment complaint against one of the company’s executives.
In a suit filed Thursday in New York, Sara Tirschwell, who worked in the firm’s New York office, alleged TCW Managing Director Jess Ravich coerced her into sex by threatening to withhold company resources from a fund she managed.
She said she started refusing Ravich’s advances early last year and that the company subsequently withheld marketing support for her fund, part of what her lawsuit describes as a plan by Ravich and others to displace her.
Tirschwell alleged that she filed a formal complaint against Ravich in early December and was fired nine days later. She’s suing for breach of contract and violations of a New York City anti-discrimination law.
TCW spokesman Doug Morris said Ravich would not comment on the lawsuit.
In an emailed statement, Morris said Tirschwell was fired for cause and did not file a complaint with the company until “it was clear she was being dismissed.”
“TCW is proud of its inclusive culture and has a zero tolerance policy for any form of predatory behavior,” he said. “We are committed to taking appropriate action in any case where harassment claims are made, and in this matter TCW promptly engaged an independent investigative firm to examine the allegations and determine the facts.”
Morris said Tirschwell has declined to participate in the investigation.
Tirschwell’s attorney, Steven Storch, said his client was not given the opportunity to participate in any investigation.
The claims brought by Tirschwell come amid a wave of sexual harassment lawsuits filed by women, largely in the media and entertainment industries, where prominent figures such as Harvey Weinstein, Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly have been forced to resign their positions.
Suits in the financial services industry, however, have been less common. One notable exception was the ousting last year of Mike Cagney as chief executive of lending start-up SoFi. Cagney was accused of sexual harassment and fomenting a frat-boy culture at the San Francisco company.
In her lawsuit, Tirschwell describes herself as “an esteemed leader in the financial services industry” and notes that she was included last year in Hedge Fund Journal’s list of 50 leading women in hedge funds.
Tirschwell met Ravich in 1994 when she was working for Libra Securities, according to her lawsuit. Ravich founded that firm in 1991 after the collapse of Drexel Burnham Lambert, the high-profile investment bank and high-yield bond shop formerly led by Michael Milken.
Ravich and Tirschwell dated for about a year beginning in 2012, according to Tirschwell’s lawsuit.
She alleged that Ravich convinced her to start a fund, one that would be owned by herself and TCW, and that he promised that TCW would provide marketing and other support for the venture.
In spring 2016, according to the suit, Tirschwell and Ravich were scheduled to have a breakfast meeting at Jean-Georges, a restaurant at Trump International Hotel & Tower.
But that meeting, Tirschwell alleged, was moved to Ravich’s apartment, also in Trump Tower. After discussing business over breakfast, Tirschwell alleges that Ravich — dressed in only a bathrobe — began to talk about all the ways he had helped her and her fund, then “made inappropriate and unwelcome sexual advances.”
Tirschwell alleged she felt that if she refused to have sex with Ravich, “the fund would never get off the ground” and so she “reluctantly acquiesced” to his advances. She alleged that was the first of seven or eight similar meetings, all at Ravich’s apartment.
In August 2016, Tirschwell joined TCW as an employee to manage the fund internally, reporting to Ravich, according to the suit. Tirschwell alleged that Ravich, along with insisting on additional breakfast meetings, harassed and groped her at her office.
Early last year, Tirschwell said she stopped attending meetings with Ravich, a move she alleged led Ravich “to become increasingly apathetic toward her” and ultimately to seek to take over her investment fund, which focused on investing in the debt of struggling companies.
That, she alleged, ultimately led to her being pushed out of the firm late last year.
Her lawsuit names Ravich, the firm and TCW Chief Executive David Lippman, who is accused of aiding Ravich’s behavior and failing to take her complaints seriously.
TCW, one of the largest investment firms in Los Angeles, manages $200 billion in assets, largely for institutions.
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4:05 p.m.: This article was updated with additional details about the lawsuit and background on Ravich, Tirschwell and TCW.
This article was originally published at 2:40 p.m.
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