An ex-TCW Group Inc. fund manager has filed a $30 million sexual harassment lawsuit against the downtown-based asset management company, alleging she was fired in retaliation for filing a complaint against one of the company’s executives.

Sara Tirschwell, a veteran distressed debt manager, accuses Jess Ravich, TCW’s group managing director and head of alternative products, of arranging “breakfast meetings” over a 10-month period where he made unwanted sexual advances toward her, clad in a “white terry bathrobe,” according to her complaint filed in New York state court in Manhattan.

Ravich “repeatedly coerced (Tirschwell) into sex” during that period, implicitly threatening that the company’s support for its Tirschwell-managed distressed fund, would wane, the lawsuit said.

After Tirschwell eventually began rejecting Ravich’s sexual advances, TCW withheld marketing support for the distressed fund, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit names Ravich and TCW Chief Executive David Lippman as co-defendants.

In an emailed statement, TCW spokesman Doug Morris said, “Ms. Tirschwell was dismissed for cause due to repeated, documented violations of firm policy, and had made no complaint of any kind before 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.”

Tirschwell declined to participate in an independent investigation, Morris said.

“She was fired before the investigation started,” said Steven Storch, Tirschwell’s lawyer, in an interview about his client’s response to TCW’s statement.

TCW hired Tirschwell in 2016 after she worked at Davidson Kemper Capital Management for 11 years. Tirschwell said she and Ravich had dated for about one year in 2012 and remained on friendly terms, information he disclosed to TCW during Tirschwell’s hiring process. Lippman warned Ravich to “keep (his) hands off her” and he didn’t want any “funny business,” the lawsuit said.

Lippman later complained to TCW colleagues that Tirschwell was “bitchy” and “yelled at people,” the complaint states.

Tirschwell further said that she complained on Dec. 5, 2017 to human resources about Ravich after he and others planned to remove her from the company. The lawsuit alleges she was fired nine days later on a “manufactured” pretext that she violated conflict of interest rules by communicating with TCW’s direct lending group even though Ravich oversaw it and Tirschwell’s direct strategy group.

Ravich was elevated to TCW’s board of directors on Dec. 27.

Staff Reporter Ciaran McEvoy can be reached at cmcevoy@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8337.