Last month it was ruled that a former Tinder executive must arbitrate her claims that she was fired for speaking up about her sexual assault by the CEO of Tinder’s parent company. Now, the former executive is asking the 9th Circuit to reconsider the panel’s finding, claiming that the arbitration agreement she signed was bogus.
The ex-Tinder marketing executive, Rosette Pambakian, filed a petition for a full bench rehearing, stating that the arbitration agreement was signed over a year after the assault. The alleged assault is against the former Match Group CEO Gregory Blatt, and Pambakian believes the agreement was put into place in order to silence her after she refused to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
In her petition, Pambakian said that “Forcing a survivor of assault into arbitration under these circumstances sends a clear message that the judicial system will not support or encourage sexual assault survivors to come forward to tell their story.”
Pambakian was Tinder’s longest-serving female executive and has now sued Tinder’s parent company, its onetime CEO Gregory Blatt, and former holding company in California state court in August of 2019.
She claimed that she was fired after accusing Blatt of sexually assaulting her after a company holiday party in 2016. The defendants removed the suit to California fed court, where in December 2019 a judge ruled the arbitration agreement Pambakian had signed was broad enough to cover the assault allegations. Last month a Ninth Circuit panel agreed she had to arbitrate.
While the panel agreed that her claims were tied to her employment and therefore fall under the arbitration agreement, Pambakian argues that the conclusion conflicts with case law that says an offsite, after-hours sexual assault by a co-worker is too far away from an actual employment issue.
The panel ruled that the assault-related allegation have to be arbitrated because it purportedly happened at a work-funded even. Additionally, the judges noted that Pambakian’s complaint had tied Blatt’s conduct that night to his behavior in the office, citing her complaint that stated the defendants nurtured a “misogynistic work culture.”
Pambakian’s main concern is that she deserves a rehearing because her case has “national importance,” saying arbitration is used to muzzle sexual assault survivors and keep them out of court.