Justum Mateen, the co-founder and chief marketing officer of the company behind the popular dating app Tinder, has been suspended pending further investigation of the sexual harassment lawsuit filed on Monday by Whitney Wolfe, the former vice president of marketing for the app. Wolfe states that she endured more than a year of inappropriate comments from Mateen and CEO Sean Rad before they finally drove her from the company.
According to the suit, Wolfe and Mateen began dating soon after he joined the company, but all too soon he became jealous and sexually controlling. Court documents include the claim that Mateen called Wolfe a “whore” in front of Rad and several other coworkers at a company party. He went on to openly accuse her of cheating on him, insisting that he knew what her “disgusting self had been up to” and to call her “a gold digger,” and “a disease” and “disgusting.” As she turned to leave, Mr. Rad’s guest at the party accosted her and spat in her face.
That alone would be more than enough for a suit, but this case is just getting started.
Rad himself also allegedly participated in the harassment, subjecting Wolfe to a "barrage of horrendously sexist, racist, and otherwise inappropriate comments, emails and text messages." Both men have also been accused of using inappropriate (i.e. sexist and racist) language against other employees, calling one a “liberal lying desperate slut” and others “middle age Muslim pigs."
Is that not enough for you? Don’t worry, Mateen and Rad have got all of your horrific misogyny needs covered.
Wolfe’s position as female co-founder was also subject to their misogyny; she claims that Mateen stated her position “devalues” Tinder and "makes the company seem like a joke." As the harassment progressed, she was systematically eliminated from the co-founders’ circle. They kept her away from the eye of the media, not crediting her in many Tinder-related articles and (of course) offering only “you’re a girl” as an explanation. They stated that having “a girl founder” “makes the company look like it was an accident.”
In November 2013, Mateen and Rad informed Wolfe that she had been officially demoted from the position of “co-founder.” Mr. Mateen apparently offered the fact that “Facebook and Snapchat don’t have girl founders” in an attempt at justification of the demotion. Because why would you ever go against the flow on anything?
IAC, the company which owns Tinder, acknowledges the investigation of Matee but denies the allegations against Rad. The company has released a statement that "Immediately upon receipt of the allegations contained in Ms. Wolfe's complaint, Mr. Mateen was suspended pending an ongoing internal investigation… Through that process, it has become clear that Mr. Mateen sent private messages to Ms. Wolfe containing inappropriate content. We unequivocally condemn these messages, but believe that Ms. Wolfe's allegations with respect to Tinder and its management are unfounded."
Regardless of who was doing the harassing, the fact still stands that misogyny is rampant, particularly in the technology world. Somebody was being harassed, and that alone is completely unacceptable.
Images courtesy of slate.com, vaunte.com, and businessinsider.com.