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NYC Litigation Blog

Monday, September 9, 2019

Former Tinder Executive Sues Company for Wrongful Termination

What are the grounds for a claim of wrongful termination?

A former executive of the popular dating app Tinder, Inc. has filed suit against Tinder’s parent companies alleging both sexual assault and wrongful termination. Rosette Pambakian worked as the vice president of marketing and communications at Tinder starting in 2012. During that time, Gregory Blatt acted as the chief executive. Pambakian recently filed a lawsuit claiming that Blatt sexually assaulted her at a company party back in 2016. According to the lawsuit, Pambakian was then terminated after reporting the incident to her supervisors.

Pambakian has filed suit against Blatt, as well as Tinder’s parent companies Match Group, Inc. and InterActive Corp. Pambakian’s lawsuit may hit a roadblock, however, due to an arbitration clause she agreed to in her Tinder contract. The clause would force Pambakian to bring her legal complaints against Tinder outside of the traditional court system. Arbitration clauses have come under fire in the wake of the MeToo movement and many companies have since removed these clauses.

Wrongful Termination Based on Retaliation 

Current Tinder execs have attempted to minimize the concerns of employees by stating that under their leadership, no one will face retaliation for reports of sexual harassment. While this may sound reassuring to Tinder employees, the reality is that employees everywhere could potentially find themselves unlawfully fired for reporting illegal activities occurring in their workplace.

Retaliation is a sadly common grounds for wrongful termination. Wrongful termination based on retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse employment actions against an employee who was a whistleblower or who filed a case against the company or another employee. Federal law makes it unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee, which could include firing, demoting, or harassing the employee.

Employees who were wrongfully terminated due to whistleblowing could have valid grounds to file a lawsuit against their employer. Employees can typically pursue monetary compensation. Potential compensation may include lost pay, lost benefits, and emotional distress. At times, a court could award punitive damages to punish the employer and deter like misconduct.

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