Match Group, Former Employees Spar Over Handling of Sexual-Assault Allegation

This week, the New York Times reported that one of the world’s biggest dating companies has suspended one of its top executives, Chad Singer, after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her in a company apartment. According to the Times, Ms. Doe, in a letter to her former employer, said that Mr. Singer had “sexually assaulted her on several occasions.”

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Greg Blatt.

announced his intention to resign from his position

Match Group Inc.

MTH 0.26%.

in 2017, the dating app conglomerate presented the transition as orderly and planned.

In private, executives fromMatch Group and its then-major shareholder, IAC/InterActive Corp. expressed concern that sexual harassment allegations against the CEO would become public, and discussed how long they should wait to say the transition was already underway. That’s according to documents filed this week in a lawsuit the companies filed in a New York State court. The executives also discussed having Blatt respond to the allegations, according to a draft dismissal letter Blatt sent to independent public relations officials.

We need to clarify when the board approved the CEO transition plan, and this needs to be done before the incident so that the story is credible when everything is disclosed, the IAC spokesman said.

Valerie Combs.

In an email from 6. July 2017 to the CEO of IAC

Joey Levine,

depending on the application submitted.

Three weeks after that exchange, a press release announcing Blatt’s resignation as CEO of Match Group and the dating app Tinder made no mention of the charges or Match Group’s investigation. Chairman of the IAC

Barry Diller

said in a press release that Blatt had contacted him nearly a year ago about a possible job change and that the CEO’s departure came after months of discussion and planning.

IAC, which spun off Match Group last year, said in a statement that an investigation by Match Group’s board of directors with two outside law firms revealed no violations of law or company policy. Based on the results of the investigation, Blatt had no reason to resign and therefore did not disclose the information, the company said. The company has nothing to hide, an IAC spokesman said in a statement.

The plaintiffs argue that the investigation into Blatt’s conduct was seriously flawed; they want the Court to grant them access to the documents relating to that investigation, which they describe as a sham.

The documents were part of a 2018 lawsuit over Tinder’s valuation, when early employees, including Tinder co-founder Sean Rad, accused Match Group and IAC of undervaluing the startup to reduce stock option payouts. The Match Group calls this claim a lawyer’s fiction.

Match Group wants to show that it takes harassment seriously on its own online dating platforms, which include Tinder, Match and Hinge. The Match Group has invested in companies that allow users to check their partners’ bios and alert authorities if there are security concerns. The lawsuit, filed in 2018, included a claim for.

Rosetta Pambachian,

former vice president of Tinder, that Blatt groped and harassed her at a company party in December 2016. The lawsuit alleges that Match Group knew about the allegation, but downplayed it in order to keep Mr. Blatt on the job while he worked on the opinion piece, and Match Group denies the allegation.

In April 2017, Rad disclosed this to Match Group’s general counsel, the company and the plaintiffs allege.

Initially, one of the law firms investigating the allegation had advised Match Group that it was obligated to disclose Blatt’s conduct after he resigned, according to Diller’s statement, which is included in the record. That opinion then changed, according to the statement. Protecting GB is the right thing to do, but GB also makes it harder every day, Diller wrote in a 2017 email to his adviser.

Jack Welch,

former CEO of General Electric Co, a copy of which was attached to the application.

Pambakian said she had made Match Group executives clear after Rad filed the complaint that Blatt’s actions were neither wanted nor authorized, the statement said. She also said in a statement that the law firms investigating the case never met with her.

Mr. Blatt stated in the defamation case against Ms. Pambakian that the incident was by mutual consent. Rad and Pambakian lied, repeatedly and spectacularly, to extort an unwarranted payment from Match, a spokesman for Mr…. Leaf in a statement.

This is the latest attempt by Sean Rudd and his entourage to cover up the truth, a Match Group spokesman said in a statement. The sexual harassment allegations have nothing to do with this lawsuit.

The trial is scheduled for November.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers argue that the reporter’s investigation into the July 2017 sexual assault allegations prompted the company to rush Blatt’s departure. Blatt later emailed independent public relations representatives about his planned departure, saying he had used his common sense by snuggling with the executive at a holiday party, according to the document.

Match Group fired Ms. Pambakian in 2018. She filed a complaint in federal court in California against Match Group and IAC for wrongful termination of employment, alleging that the termination resulted from her overt allegation of sexual misconduct. Match Group rejected this request.

Her Tinder rating and wrongful termination claims are arbitrated because her employment agreement with Match Group provided that complaints against the company would be handled privately and not in open court.

Match Group stated that its rules on relationships at work had changed following an investigation into Blatt’s conduct and that staff were now required to disclose relationships between colleagues, including supervisors and subordinates. If the company’s current policy had been in place in 2016, Blatt should have reported the incident.

Corrections and additions
to 6. July 2017, IAC’s head of communications emailed IAC’s CEO to discuss how to describe the CEO’s succession plans for Tinder. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the letter was sent on July 7. 2017. (corrected on May 29).

Email Georgia Wells at georgia.wells+1@wsj.com.

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