Rosette Pambakian, the former Head of Marketing and Communications at Tinder, has filed a lawsuit against the dating app’s parent company, Match, and former Tinder CEO, Gregory Blatt on charges including wrongful termination, sexual battery, and negligence.
Pambakian claims that Blatt, who was her boss at the time, sexually assaulted her after a company party in 2016. She was let go from her job in December of 2018. Pambakian said her firing was retaliation for speaking up.
Current CEO of Match, Mandy Ginsberg, has said that the company investigated Pambakian’s allegations and concluded that they were without merit. The accusations against Blatt became public during a separate $2 billion lawsuit filed by multiple Tinder employees against Match parent company IAC. Pambakian and other staff, including Tinder co-founder Sean Rad, accused IAC of intentionally undervaluing Tinder to avoid granting fair stock options to original staffers.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Rosette Pambakian Claims She Tolerated ‘Inappropriate Behavior’ By Gregory Blatt For a Long Time Prior to the Alleged Assault
Rosette Pambakian’s attorneys filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on August 5, 2019. In the complaint, Pambakian alleges that ex-CEO Gregory Blatt had a “reputation for being a notorious bully.” She described his behavior throughout their years working together as being “inappropriate.”
Pambakian says the behavior escalated during a company holiday party held on December 9, 2016, at a hotel in Beverly Hills. She says Blatt approached her and said, “I get hard every time I look at you” and “Let’s get out of here.”
According to the lawsuit, Pambakian felt “stunned” by what Blatt had said and quickly walked away. She says she went to a hotel room with two other colleagues, labeled as Witness No. 1 and Witness No. 2, to “distance herself from Defendant Blatt.” The first witness was described as Blatt’s executive assistant.
2. Rosette Pambakian Says Blatt Sexually Assaulted Her in the Hotel Room In Front of Two Witnesses
Rosette Pambakian claims in the lawsuit that Gregory Blatt came up to the hotel room where she and two other colleagues were around 2 o’clock in the morning. Pambakian says she was sitting on the bed in the hotel room when Blatt arrived, and that Blatt immediately walked over to her upon entering the room.
She says Blatt climbed on top of her and began groping her breast and upper thighs, and kissed her shoulders, neck, and chest. He allegedly asked the other two witnesses to turn off the lights. Pambakian says she was acutely aware that the two witnesses were “subordinates,” and “made the decision to de-escalate the situation and not cause a further scene.” Pambakian says she pulled away from Blatt and recommended that they all order food service.
Pambakian claims that after the food arrived, Blatt tried to kiss her again. She again moved away from him and announced that it was time to leave. According to the complaint, “Witness No. 1 begged Plaintiff not to leave her alone with Defendant Blatt.” Pambakian and Witness No. 2 waited until Blatt’s car service arrived before leaving as well.
3. Pambakian Reported the Alleged Assault a Few Days Later & Claims the Internal Investigation Was Biased
Rosette Pambakian alleges in the complaint that at first, she was nervous about speaking up because she was worried it would impact her working relationships with colleagues. She says Gregory Blatt apologized for his behavior and that they “agreed to quash the incident and not to speak of it again.”
But a few days later, Pambakian decided to inform the Vice President of Public Affairs for the Match Group, Matt David, about what she says happened. Her lawyers included in the complaint that Pambakian felt it was her duty to speak up “because she feared a potential public relations crisis as there were witnesses to the assault.” She says David did not go to Human Resources with Pambakian’s allegations.
Instead, the person who ended up reporting the incident was Tinder co-founder Sean Rad. He had heard rumors about the holiday party and asked Pambakian about it directly. An internal investigation was opened, but according to the complaint, “Mr. Rad expressed his fears that the investigation was biased, because two executives who reported directly to Defendant Blatt, the subject of the investigation, were in fact in charge, but his concerns fell on deaf ears.” The lawsuit goes on to allege that Rad faced “threats from Match executives that if he did not stop pursuing the investigation into Defendant Blatt’s misconduct he would face retribution.”
Pambakian says that when she eventually met with company leaders in human resources and general counsel, she learned that Blatt had insisted that what happened between them had been consensual. Pambakian alleges that throughout the inquiry, the investigators were keeping Blatt informed of what she and a witness had said.
According to the complaint, a reporter from Tech Crunch began asking questions about rumors of sexual misconduct happening at Tinder in July of 2017. A few months later, Blatt resigned as CEO of Tinder, reportedly because of the sexual assault allegation. Pambakian’s lawyers criticized the company in the complaint, accusing Match and IAC of engaging in “a sham investigation conducted by biased executives in an effort to conceal and discredit the sexual assault suffered by Plaintiff. Only when faced with the fact that they could no longer keep the assault quiet, did the Company Defendants take any action.”
At the time of Pambakian’s firing, Match CEO Mandy Ginsberg sent Pambakian an email, which was also provided to Business Insider. Ginsberg reportedly stated that the issue had been “thoroughly investigated” and that the company had concluded that “no sexual harassment occurred.” The email also included, “You were not terminated because you reported Greg for sexual harassment. You couldn’t have been, as you never reported Greg for sexual harassment.”
4. Pambakian Alleges She Was Fired for Speaking Up & For Participating in a Separate Lawsuit Against Tinder
Rosette Pambakian says she was notified in August of 2018 that she was being placed on “leave.” The notice came one day after Pambakian and several team members, including co-founder Sean Rad, filed a lawsuit against the company in relation to stock options.
Pambakian accuses IAC and Match of failing to properly investigate her allegations against now ex-CEO Gregory Blatt because “they needed Defendant Blatt, whom as CEO and the highest-ranking executive in charge of the valuation process of Tinder, was the lynchpin in Company Defendants’ scheme to undervalue Tinder and decrease the amount Plaintiff and her fellow Tinder stockholders would receive in exercising their stock options by billions of dollars.”
Pambakian was officially terminated in December of 2018. She claims that Match and IAC fired her in retaliation for her involvement in the separate lawsuit about stock options as well as the allegations against Blatt. She also alleges that the company “promoted a misogynistic culture where female employees were marginalized and sexually harassed on a regular basis.”
Pambakian and her attorneys are demanding “compensatory damages including but not limited to, pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life;” “economic damages in the form of medical expenses, out of pocket expenses, lost earnings and earning capacity;” and attorney fees and costs.
5. Rosette Pambakian Was One of Tinder’s First Executives
Rosette Pambakian says she began coordinating with other leaders at Tinder to get the company off the ground during 2012. She officially began working at Tinder in March of 2014. In the lawsuit, her attorneys described her as “one of the earliest executive hires and the longest standing female executive at the dating app Tinder.”
Prior to officially joining Tinder, Pambakian had been working as the Director of Public Relations for the Entertainment Fusion Group, according to her Linkedin profile. She began her professional career in PR and marketing after graduating from California State University-Northridge in 2005.
Pambakian has been widely recognized as an expert in the public relations field. In 2018, she was part of PR Week’s annual “40 Under 40” list. Cosmopolitan Magazine also included her in its 2018 Millennial Power List.
Since leaving Tinder, Pambakian says she had been serving as a marketing advisor to tech startups. She wrote on her Twitter bio that she is also “taking deep breaths.”