An appellate court in New York reinstated a retaliation claim brought by Sara Tirschwell, a former managing director of TCW's distressed debt strategy group, against TCW Group and its CEO and President David Lippman, according to the court order Thursday.
The appellate court also reinstated Ms. Tirschwell's request for punitive damages.
New York State Supreme Court Justice Robert D. Kalish, in an opinion last June, had dismissed three of five causes of action against TCW and Mr. Lippman, including that they retaliated against her when she complained about being discriminated against for her gender, and sexual harassment by her boss and co-defendant, Jess Ravich. The court also dismissed a claim that Mr. Lippman aided and abetted Mr. Ravich's alleged discrimination and harassment, and her cause of action for retaliation against Mr. Ravich.
On Thursday, the appellate court reversed the dismissal of Ms. Tirschwell's retaliation claim against TCW and Mr. Lippman because, it said, that there are factual issues for the trial court as to whether "there was a causal connection between their decision to terminate plaintiff and the HR complaint, which was made only nine days earlier."
The claim that TCW breached the covenant of good faith and fair dealing was likewise reinstated on appeal. The court held that there are issues of fact concerning whether TCW gave Ms. Tirschwell the support she needed to do her job.
The court, however, upheld the dismissal of the aiding and abetting claim against Mr. Lippman because, it said, there is no indication that Mr. Lippman knew of Mr. Ravich's alleged misconduct.
In a written statement, TCW said that Ms. Tirschwell's allegations against the money manager are "without merit."
"We intend to continue to vigorously defend ourselves in this matter," TCW said. "Ms. Tirschwell was properly terminated as a result of repeated compliance violations."
Ms. Tirschwell's attorney, Steven G. Storch, managing partner of Storch Byrne, said in a written statement that he and his client are "gratified by the appellate court decision" to reinstate some of Ms. Tirschwell's claims.
"We look forward to presenting our case at trial," he said.
A trial date has not yet been set.