A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Threatens To Tarnish Tinder

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tinderembedPhoto: Courtesy of Tinder.
Over the last year and a half, Tinder has helped redraw the boundary between online dating and hookups, letting users transact the messy business of meeting people from the comfort of their mobile devices.

Behind the scenes, however, things don't sound so nice and tidy. Whitney Wolfe, a former vice president of marketing at Tinder, is suing the company for sexual harassment and discrimination.

Wolfe alleges that she was the subject of constant abuse by the company's chief marketing officer, Justin Mateen, who called her a "whore" and a "desperate loser," among other terrible things. Wolfe also contends that she was a co-founder of Tinder, but that her contributions to the core of the company — including suggesting the name "Tinder" — were pushed to the background because she was a woman in a bro-heavy startup culture.

Wolfe claims in her lawsuit that "[although] it is tempting to describe the conduct of Tinder’s senior executives as 'frat-like,' it was in fact much worse—representing the worst of the misogynist, alpha-male stereotype too often associated with technology startups."

It's a tangled case of conflicting egos in the new tech world, not unlike the one dramatized in The Social Network, but with an extra dose of chauvinism to boot. The company, meanwhile, has told its employees that Wolfe's claims are "full of factual inaccuracies and omissions," but it has also suspended Mateen indefinitely as the suit proceeds.

BusinessWeek's Nick Summers did some digging and found that Wolfe's allegations are just the tip of the iceberg. Read the whole story here. (BusinessWeek)