Jul 17, 2014 09:09 PM EDT
A former Tinder executive filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Monday against the dating app and its majority owner InterActiveCorp for sexual harassment and gender discrimination. Whitney Wolfe said in the lawsuit that she was subjected to inappropriate comments from several other Tinder executives and was excluded from recognition for her work in starting the company.
According to Wolfe, both the chief executive and the chief marketing officer sent her "a barrage of horrendously sexist, racist and otherwise inappropriate comments, emails and text messages." Wolfe said that IAC ignored her complaints of the harassment.
The remarks were coupled with the fact that Wolfe was often left off of founder lists because of her gender and age. Colleagues told her that having a 24-year-old "girl founder" among the five Tinder originals would not seem legitimate.
"Here you have the story of a woman who was a founder and an integral part of the company's success and even within that, she was still subjected to atrocious sexist behavior, behind company doors," said David Lowe, a lawyer representing Wolfe.
Lowe said Wolfe is seeking compensation for her lost equity and compensation due to her resignation because of the company's hostile work environment. This sum was worth millions of dollars when Wolfe left Tinder. The goal of the lawsuit, according to Lowe, is "to make sure that her role as a woman leader in the company isn't erased from history."
A representative for IAC, Matthew Traub, has said Wolfe's allegations are "unfounded," but also added that the company confirmed through an internal investigation that Justin Mateen, Tinder's chief marketing office, sent inappropriate private messages to Wolfe. Mateen has since been suspended.
A workplace diversity advocate, Ashe Dryden, said these type of complaints are all too common in the technology industry.
"These incidents reflect what we see at every level," Dryden said in an email. "The continual dismissal of women's competence, the overt sexualized atmosphere we see both online and off, the aggressive hyper-masculinity that is often rewarded and idolized by other men."
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