By Jonathan Stempel and Jessica DiNapoli
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A lawyer for a former TCW Group Inc fund manager who recently ran for New York City mayor urged an appeals court to restore the manager's sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit against her former employer.
Sara Tirschwell had sued TCW, its chief executive, and former alternative products chief Jess Ravich for more than $30 million in January 2018. It was considered Wall Street's first major case of the #MeToo era.
In arguments before New York state's Appellate Division in Manhattan, Tirschwell's lawyer Steven Storch said a lower court judge wrongly "took over the province of the jury" last June by dismissing much of the case, including a punitive damages claim.
Tirschwell accused Ravich, whom she once dated, of pressuring her into having sex in exchange for supporting her distressed debt fund, and withdrawing his support when she stopped.
She also said Los Angeles-based TCW, which recently had $248 billion of assets under management, wrongfully fired her because she complained about Ravich to human resources.
Ravich has denied Tirschwell's accusations and said he was TCW's biggest supporter of her.
TCW said Tirschwell had already been "hanging by a thread" because of her performance, and was fired for cause after a fifth compliance violation in December 2017, less than 1-1/2 years after being hired permanently.
"She didn't follow the rules. That was her choice," TCW's lawyer Jonathan Sulds said.
Justice Barbara Kapnick, one of the appeals court judges, characterized the period as "relatively short."
The lower court judge had let Tirschwell pursue a discrimination claim against Ravich and a contract claim against TCW, and to seek compensatory damages.
TCW and Ravich appealed those rulings, saying evidence of wrongdoing wasn't there.
"Look at the record, not the allegations," Ravich's lawyer Robert Sacks said. Ravich left TCW in 2019.
The court did not say when it will rule.
Tirschwell, a Texas native, last month ended her bid for the Republican nomination to run for New York City mayor.
Political analysts expect Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio's successor will be one of the 13 Democrats seeking the office.
(Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli and Jonathan Stempel in New Yorkd; editing by Jonathan Oatis)