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TCW says former managing director suing firm was fired for compliance violations

TCW Group said in its response to a sexual harassment complaint that it fired the plaintiff, Sara Tirschwell, for cause due to repeated violations of the firm's compliance policies and procedures, according to legal documents filed on Tuesday.

TCW argues it had decided to allow Ms. Tirschwell's contract to automatically expire on Feb. 28 because she had not raised a minimum of $100 million in capital for a distressed debt fund as required by the agreement. TCW contends firm executives made the decision to terminate Ms. Tirschwell in November 2017 "prior to any suggestion of a gender-based harassment complaint from (the) plaintiff," a legal document states.

Ms. Tirschwell, a former managing director of TCW Group's distressed debt strategy group and portfolio manager of the TCW Distressed Fund, sued TCW on Jan. 25, alleging the firm fired her in December after she had lodged a sexual harassment complaint with TCW against her direct supervisor, Jess Ravich, group managing director and head of alternative products, according to the complaint. She is seeking at least $30 million.

In a separate legal document, Mr. Ravich denied sexually harassing Ms. Tirschwell and alleges that although her contract with TCW provides that she would own 51% of the fund, that TCW always had the option to "convert the fund to 100% TCW ownership with a standard employment agreement for plaintiff."

"TCW's allegations are unsurprising given that TCW promoted defendant Jess Ravich to its board of directors before conducting an independent investigation of Ms. Tirschwell's complaint," according to a statement from Ms. Tirschwell. "This is certainly not the first time that men in bathrobes have issued such initial denials. 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."