Tinder sued for sexual harassment and discrimination

01/07/14

Whitney Wolfe

The former vice president of marketing at Tinder is suing the company over claims of sexual harassment and discrimination.

Whitney Wolfe has filed a lawsuit, against the dating app, describing 18 months of harassment, starting in 2012.

She has said her title as co-founder was stripped because of her gender and accused Justin Mateen, chief marketing officer, of publicly insulting her.

Wolfe said he called her a whore at a company party.

She also claimed Chief Executive Officer Sean Rad ignored her complaints.

Sean Rad and Justin Mateen
Image caption Justin Mateen and Sean Rad have been accused by Whitney Wolfe of discriminating against her

IAC/InterActiveCorp owns a majority stake in Los Angeles-based Tinder and is also a defendant, along with Match.com.

An IAC spokesman said Mateen had been suspended as part of an ongoing internal investigation and said the messages he sent Wolfe were "inappropriate".

"We unequivocally condemn these messages, but believe that Ms. Wolfe's allegations with respect to Tinder and its management are unfounded," he said.

Tinder and Match did not reply to emails requesting comment.

Wolfe said she came up with the idea for the name Tinder after worries its original name of Matchbox was too similar to Match.com.

Justin Mateen

She said she formed a romantic relationship with Mateen after he joined the company in 2012.

The lawsuit states Mateen called her "a desperate loser" in a marketing meeting as they began to break up and told a number of people, including Rad, that Wolfe was an alcoholic.

She also said he sent her a string of harassing texts.

Wolfe complained to Rad, who would ignore her "or call her a dramatic or emotional girl," the suit says, adding that in one meeting, Rad told her it was her job to "keep Justin calm."

Wolfe said she resigned after Mateen called her a whore at a company party in April.

Tinder

She said she was stripped of her title of co-founder in November 2013 after Mateen said that having a "girl founder" would devalue the company, the lawsuit claims.

The news comes as activists accuse Silicon Valley of being unfriendly towards women.

They say female executives, founders and programmers are put off by the culture of the "brogrammer", a partying, male programmer.

Tinder allows users to link their Facebook pictures to their profiles, and then look at other users' pictures. Users swipe left to decline a match, or right to begin messaging someone.

Rad has previously said Tinder had created more than 150 marriages.

"Every day we get hundreds and thousands of emails telling us either [about] friendships made on Tinder or engagements, or long-term relationships being created," he said.

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