Trendy dating app Tinder has found itself in hot water. Whitney Wolfe, the company’s co-founder and marketing executive, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on Monday night, focused on CMO Justin Mateen but also including CEO Sean Rad and parent company IAC. The company has suspended Mateen.
According to the lawsuit, Wolfe, who was instrumental in the initial college outreach campaigns that ultimately formed the foundation for Tinder’s success, was stripped of her title as co-founder and hidden from press view because, according to Mateen, the presence of a “girl” founder made the company “seem like a joke” and “an accident.” Wolfe claims she suffered continually at the hands of Mateen, who as CMO was her direct supervisor and also pursued a relationship with her in 2013. After the relationship ended, Mateen sent private texts threatening her and calling her names like “lying liberal slut.” Wolf claims that the behavior leaked over into the office as well, when Mateen called her a “whore” in front of CEO Sean Rad and antagonized her at work.
Wolfe says that she approached Rad with an offer to resign with severance, but was denied and fired outright.
Reuters reports that IAC confirmed Mateen’s suspension and acknowledged his behavior against Wolfe, while denying the suit:
“We unequivocally condemn these messages, but believe that Ms. Wolfe’s allegations with respect to Tinder and its management are unfounded.”
This suit, and Mateen’s suspension, comes at a difficult time for women in technology. While companies like Google report meager representations of women in tech roles, the high-profile sexual harassment allegations at GitHub — and subsequent shaming of accuser Julie Ann Horvath — exemplify why women sometimes feel intimidated in these roles.