Former Tinder exec sues company, alleging sexual assault and retaliation
A former Tinder executive is suing the former chief executive of parent company IAC for sexual battery — and suing the company itself for firing her after she went public with her accusations in an earlier lawsuit.
In the suit, filed Monday, former Tinder vice president of marketing and communications Rosette Pambakian alleges that Gregory Blatt, a onetime chief executive of IAC, harassed and assaulted her at a company Christmas party held at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills in December 2016.
For the record:
11:25 p.m. Aug. 5, 2019A previous version of this article referred to Gregory Blatt as chief executive of IAC. He no longer holds that title. Also, Mandy Ginsberg was described as chairman of Match Group. She is the company’s chief executive.
At the party, according to the suit, Blatt approached Pambakian and said to her “in a lewd voice,” “I get hard every time I look at you” and “Let’s get out of here.” Wishing to avoid further interaction with Blatt, Pambakian says she went upstairs with two co-workers to one of their hotel rooms, but by 2 a.m. Blatt had found the room. After the group let him in, according to the suit, he immediately pinned Pambakian to the bed she was sitting on, then began”forcibly groping [Pambakian’s] breasts and upper thighs, and kissing her shoulders, neck and chest.” The group managed to distract Blatt by ordering food until he finally left in a car service, the complaint says.
Pambakian initially made her complaints public last year as part of a $2 billion lawsuit against the company, but withdrew after finding that she had signed an arbitration agreement with the company. In that lawsuit, which is currently working its way through the court system in New York, Tinder co-founder Sean Rad and a number of former Tinder executives claim that IAC and its dating app subsidiary Match Group (which also owns Hinge and OKCupid) purposely undervalued the company in an effort to avoid paying out billions in stock options to the original team that worked on the dating app.
Pambakian’s new suit reiterates the earlier claims that Blatt was protected from disciplinary action following the alleged assault in part because he was key to the IAC scheme to lowball the Tinder team.
After the incident at the SLS Hotel, the suit alleges that Pambakian was “marginalized, subject to additional harassing, offensive, and insulting behavior, put on administrative leave, publicly accused of consenting to her attacker’s advances, and finally, wrongfully terminated by Defendants.”
Pambakian was still working at Tinder when she joined the 2018 suit, but was placed on administrative leave soon after, and fired in December. Match spokeswoman Justine Sacco said at the time that Pambakian and others were terminated because they were “unable to fulfill their job responsibilities.” In an email provided to The Times, Match Group Chief Executive Mandy Ginsberg told Pambakian the reasons for her dismissal included “your public position against the company in a valuation process” and referring work-related communications to her lawyers.
Sacco declined to comment on the new lawsuit, but cited a statement IAC’s board made in response to Pambakian’s allegations as laid out in the earlier suit: “The Match Group Board – with the assistance of experienced outside counsel from two nationally recognized law firms – promptly conducted a careful and thorough investigation under the direction of independent Board members, concluded, among other things, that there was no violation of law or company policy, and took appropriate action.”
As of Monday afternoon, Pambakian’s lawsuit had been filed but awaited review by the court.