There’s no surprise in hearing the words “Tinder” and “sexual harassment” in the same sentence. It may be shocking, however, when it involves the two co-founders of the mega popular dating app.
Whitney Wolfe is suing Tinder after allegedly being sexually harassed and threatened by co-founder and ex-boyfriend Justin Mateen. She also claims Tinder CEO Sean Rad participated in the sexual harassment, accusing both men of revoking her co-founder status due to her gender. Wolfe said she had no choice but to resign after the torment became unbearable.
In 2012, a 24-year-old Wolfe spearheaded her company’s idea for a dating app that no one else cared to use. She says she was the one who came up with the name “Tinder” and handled its promotion on college campuses. Soon after, she was named a co-founder.
In 2013, she began dating Mateen, and it was after their breakup that the alleged harassment began. According to Wolfe, he became verbally controlling and abusive, telling her it was “slutty” for a girl to be a founder of a hook up site.
According to the lawsuit, Mateen tried to downplay his disparaging comments, saying that “Facebook and Snapchat don’t have girl founders. It just makes it look like Tinder was some accident.”
After complaining to Match.com CEO Sam Yagan and getting an indifferent response, Wolfe left the company – but not before saving the plethora of incriminating text messages between her and Mateen. The text messages (which you can read here) include thinly veiled threats, passive-aggressive comments, racist name calling and abusive language.
IAC (the incubator who birthed Tinder) has suspended Mateen in light of the texts, but is denying any wrongdoing on Tinder’s part.
“We unequivocally condemn these messages, but believe that Ms. Wolfe’s allegations with respect to Tinder and its management are unfounded,” reads IAC’s statement.
Tinder has not publicly commented on the case.