Matchmaking Mobile App “Tinder” resolves sexual harassment lawsuit; marketing chief resigns
The dating app start-up Tinder has resolved a sexual harassment lawsuit lodged by one of its early employees without admitting wrongdoing, and one of the executives targeted by the lawsuit has left the company. Whitney Wolfe, who describes herself as Tinder co-founder, had alleged in a lawsuit filed in June that two male superiors at the West Hollywood start-up pressured her to resign and directed threatening and disparaging comments at her. Among others, the suit targeted Sean Rad, the chief executive, and Justin Mateen, the chief marketing officer. Wolfe sought damages, including lost wages and stock options.
Mateen resigned from Tinder in the wake of the lawsuit, a source unauthorized to speak publicly about the situation said Monday. Tinder declined to comment, and a call to a number listed for Mateen wasn’t answered. Mateen and Wolfe had been in a relationship for some time. Wolfe said in a court filing that it devolved into Mateen making “sexist, racist, and otherwise inappropriate comments, emails and text messages.”
The company, which is majority-owned by Barry Diller’s IAC Corp., never responded to the allegations in court. Instead, Tinder extended its deadline to reply throughout the summer as negotiations took place. Wolfe’s attorneys filed Friday to have the Los Angeles County Superior Court case dropped. “Whitney is proud to be a co-founder of Tinder and of the role that she played in the app’s success,” the firm Rudy, Exelrod, Zieff & Lowe said in a statement. “She is now pleased to be able to focus her energy, talents, and ideas on exciting new opportunities.” Attorney David Lowe declined to comment on Wolfe’s case, but said that in general, “Jury trial is not the only way to get justice in court cases.” “This wasn’t the first case and this won’t be the last case with allegations of women being treated badly at technology companies,” he added.
Tinder’s free, ad-less app ranks among the nation’s 100 most-downloaded apps, according to data from AppAnnie. It lets two people who are nearby message each other if they secretly “heart” one another. Tinder produced 10 million such matches a day in June, though recent reports indicate it’s now up to 12 million.