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Former Tinder exec sues ex-CEO and IAC on claim of sexual assault

Key Points
  • Former Tinder exec Rosette Pambakian has filed a lawsuit against Tinder's ex-CEO, dating service Match and parent company IAC, alleging sexual harassment.
  • The lawsuit alleges that the former Tinder CEO Greg Blatt, who left the company in 2017, "groped and sexually harassed" Pambakian at a company holiday party.
  • IAC and Match also face a separate, ongoing lawsuit by a group of Tinder co-founders.
Tinder logo seen displayed on a smartphone.
Rafael Henrique | SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

A former executive at Tinder is suing the company's former CEO, Gregory Blatt, dating service Match (which owns Tinder), and Match parent company IAC/InterActiveCorp over claims of sexual assault.

Rosette Pambakian, who previously served as vice president of marketing and communications at Tinder, alleges in the complaint that she was fired for claiming Blatt sexually assaulted her, as well as for participating in a separate lawsuit against IAC, in which a group of Tinder co-founders accused it of undervaluing Tinder to avoid paying them billions of dollars. Blatt, who also served as IAC Chairman, left the company in 2017.

In the complaint filed Tuesday, Pambakian alleges Blatt approached her at a company party in December 2016 and made comments of a sexual nature toward her, as well as said "Let's get out of here." It also claims that Blatt entered an employee's hotel room and "immediately went straight for [Pambakian]" who was sitting on a bed.

Blatt allegedly pulled Pambakian backwards so that she was lying beside him and "began forcibly groping [Pambakian's] breasts and upper thighs, and kissing her shoulders, neck and chest — all without [Pambakian's] consent," according to the complaint. After she extricated herself from the situation, Blatt allegedly attempted to grope her again.

The complaint states that Pambakian met with Tinder's human resources department and legal counsel about the incident but that they attempted to "cover-up and conceal the misconduct of [Blatt]." It also alleges that Blatt, Match and IAC asked Pambakian to sign a non-disclosure agreement about the incident "in exchange for increased compensation," which she declined to sign.

Pambakian was initially placed on administrative leave and then fired on August 15, 2018, after four years with the dating app, according to the lawsuit. The complaint is seeking unspecified monetary damages for negligence, wrongful termination, sexual battery, gender violence and retaliation.

"The Match Group Board takes allegations of workplace misconduct extremely seriously," a spokesperson for Match said in a statement. "We investigate reports of misconduct, including sexual harassment, promptly and thoroughly, and take appropriate action, including swift termination of those responsible for such behavior." 

"As it relates to the matter alleged in the lawsuit, an incident occurred in late 2016 and was reported at the end of April 2017," the spokesperson added. "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."

Tinder declined to comment on the lawsuit. IAC didn't immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment. Blatt could not immediately be reached for comment.

Tinder has faced previous claims of sexual harassment. In 2014, Whitney Wolfe, CEO of dating app Bumble and a former VP of marketing at Tinder, sued Tinder for sexual harassment and and discrimination.

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Tinder employees file lawsuit against IAC Match Group