Tinder Co-Founder Suspended in Wake of Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
Tinder co-founder and chief marketing officer Justin Mateen has been suspended as majority owner IAC investigates sexual harassment allegations.
Tinder co-founder Justin Mateen has been suspended from the wildly popular dating app as majority owner IAC investigates allegations of sexual harassment and sex discrimination brought Monday against the West Hollywood-based company.
Lawyers for Whitney Wolfe, the former vp marketing at Tinder, filed suit against the dating app alleging that Mateen and CEO Sean Rad stripped her of her co-founder title because she is a woman. The lawsuit also alleges that Mateen sent her sexist text messages and emails, while Rad ignored her complaints.
IAC has issued a statement saying that it has suspended Mateen after beginning an investigation into the allegations.
"Through that process, it has become clear that Mr. Mateen sent private messages to Ms. Wolfe containing inappropriate content," the statement reads. "We unequivocally condemn these messages, but believe that Ms. Wolfe's allegations with respect to Tinder and its management are unfounded."
The lawsuit, filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, paints Wolfe as one of the key early employees at Tinder. She joined the company in May 2012 when it was part of the IAC-funded incubator Hatch Labs and was named co-founder in November of that year. It also gives her credit for suggesting the name Tinder, a variation on the name Rad proposed: Tender.
The suit also describes a romantic relationship between Wolfe and Mateen that began in 2013. Wolfe alleges that after the on-and-off relationship ended in December that year, Mateen became verbally abusive, at one point calling her "a desperate loser" during a marketing meeting. She complained to Rad in a text message, but he did not respond.
As the name calling continued — at one point Mateen called Wolfe a "whore" during a company party — Wolfe says that she began to get pushed out of company meetings. Her co-founder title also was removed in November 2013. The lawsuit says that she was pressured to resign from Tinder in April.
The lawsuit comes as the technology community has been increasingly scrutinized for its treatment of women, a product of male-dominated office cultures.
Tinder is majority owned by IAC, Barry Diller's digital media conglomerate, which also is named in the lawsuit along with dating website Match.com, also an IAC portfolio company.