WeHo’s Tinder Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

Tinder, the West Hollywood-based dating app, and its parent company, IAC, have settled a lawsuit brought by co-founder Whitney Wolfe alleging sexual harassment and discrimination.

Whitney Wolfe
Whitney Wolfe

In a story posted today, Buzzfeed quoted Wolfe’s lawyer, John Mullan of Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe LLP, as saying the suit had been resolved with no admission of wrongdoing by Tinder.

Wolfe filed a lawsuit in June alleging that Justin Mateen, Tinder’s chief marketing officer, had called her a “whore” and a “gold digger” in front of other employees and Tinder CEO Sean Rad. She said that Rad and Mateen stripped her of her title as co-founder last November. In her lawsuit, Wolfe says that Mateen told her “Facebook and Snapchat don’t have girl founders, it just makes it look like Tinder was some accident.”

The lawsuit included copies of text messages from Mateen referring to “Muslim pigs” and describing someone as a “homo.” Wolfe alleges that Rad even sent a text message depicting Barry Diller, the chairman of IAC, which is Tinder’s majority owner, as a penis.

Tinder is a mobile phone dating app that was created in 2012 at Hatch Labs, a digital incubator funded by IAC/InterActiveCorp . Businessweek describes it as “the fastest-growing free dating app in the U.S.” A user is able to quickly look at a photo of another Tinder user within a certain distance and, with a swipe of a finger reject (left swipe) or like (right swipe) the other user. Users who like one another are notified of that so that they can communicate with one another.

In her lawsuit, Wolfe says she was in a brief romantic relationship with Mateen and that he was especially aggressive toward her when it ended. She said that CEO Rad didn’t respond to emails from her complaining about harassment by Mateen and that he called her a dramatic and emotional girl. Finally, at a meeting Rad held with Wolfe and Mateen, the suit alleges that Rad said if the two couldn’t get along, Wolfe would be fired.

Shortly after the suit was fired, IAC said that Mateen had suspended while the company investigated Wolfe’s allegations. Those allegations were largely substantiated in a series of text messages published by the Daily Mail.

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