Tinder Suspends Co-Founder Over Sexual Harassment Claims
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Tinder’s former vice president of marketing, Whitney Wolfe, is suing the company she says she co-founded on charges of sexual harassment and sex discrimination.
According to court documents filed yesterday, Wolfe alleges that Tinder’s CMO, Justin Mateen, called her a whore at a company event in the presence of CEO Sean Rad.
And after having played a pivotal role in the company’s founding, including coining its name, Wolfe says her status as a co-founder was revoked because Mateen believed having a young female in the role made “the company seem like a joke.”
Tinder’s parent companies, IAC and Match.com, are named as co-defendants in the lawsuit.
Court documents also reveal incinerating text messages between Mateen and Wolfe, who briefly dated. “You prefer to social climb middle aged Muslim pigs that stand for nothing,” Mateen wrote after they’d broken up.
In response, Wolfe repeatedly asked Mateen to stop harassing her. “I am trying to do my job and this is very out of control,” she said.
In lieu of the leaked texts, Mateen was immediately “suspended pending an ongoing internal investigation,” according to Tinder. “We unequivocally condemn these messages, but believe that Ms. Wolfe’s allegations with respect to Tinder and its management are unfounded,” the company said in a statement to USA Today.
Additional allegations include that Rad repeatedly ignored Wolfe’s complaints about being harassed, and bullied her into resigning.
She also alleges that he sent her a text message “depicting IAC chairman Barry Diller as a penis.”
And after leaving the company, Wolfe says she tearfully recounted the abuses she suffered to Sam Yagan, CEO of Match.com, who was “unmoved” and “didn’t feel compelled to do anything in response.”
Wolfe is asking for lost back pay, lost fringe benefits, lost equity and damages for emotional distress and pain suffering.
"I had hoped this would be resolved confidentially, but after months of failed attempts, I have decided to pursue this suit," she said in a statement to USA Today.