Former executive at dating app Tinder sues over alleged sexual harassment

Former marketing vice-president accuses Tinder co-founders of discrimination

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 11:21pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 July, 2014, 11:21pm

A former marketing vice-president for a popular dating-app company is suing her ex-employers for sexual harassment and discrimination.

Whitney Wolfe's lawsuit makes Tinder the latest technology business to face a challenge over its treatment of women.

Wolfe's lawsuit lists a series of alleged incidents of harassment over 18 months starting in late 2012. Among the allegations: that chief executive Sean Rad and chief marketing officer Justin Mateen removed her title as co-founder because of her sex; and that Mateen publicly insulted her, including calling her a whore at a company party, while Rad ignored her complaints.

IAC/InterActiveCorp owns a majority stake in Tinder and is also a defendant, along with fellow dating site and IAC portfolio company

A spokesman for IAC said that Mateen had been suspended pending an ongoing internal investigation, and called messages he sent Wolfe "inappropriate".

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

In the lawsuit, Wolfe says she came up with the name "Tinder" for the service in mid-2012, shortly after its creation, amid worries that its original name, Matchbox, was too similar to

The lawsuit says Wolfe became romantically involved with Mateen, her boss, who joined the company in late 2012.

Although she was designated a co-founder in a November 2012 meeting, Mateen told her that having a "girl founder" devalued the company, the lawsuit says. In November 2013, Mateen and Rad removed her co-founder title.

As her romance broke down, the suit says, Mateen called her "a desperate loser" in a marketing meeting and told Rad and others she was an alcoholic. He also sent her harassing texts, it states.

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".

The lawsuit - filed in California's Superior Court in Los Angeles - alleges that Wolfe resigned after Mateen called her a whore at a company party in April.

The allegations come as Silicon Valley draws fire for its female-unfriendly atmosphere, which activists say contributes to the low number of woman technology executives and company founders.