Does Tinder discriminate against “older” people?

As if it weren’t tough enough to get a date as you get older, dating site Tinder also charges more  if you’re over 30. But now a California appeals court has revived a lawsuit that alleges Tinder’s pricing discriminates against older users, who must pay more to access certain features of its service. That ruling was a reversal of a lower-court decision.

At issue is Tinder’s 2015 decision to charge customers 30 and older a $19.99 monthly fee for its “Tinder Plus” feature, for which younger people pay $9.99 to $14.99. Plaintiff Allen Candelore filed suit seeking class-action status against Tinder, alleging the company’s pricing constituted unfair competition and violated California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.  A spokesperson for Tinder couldn’t be reached.

The service, where people swipe right on their smartphones to accept a potential match, is part of the internet company Match, also the corporate parent of Match.com and OkCupid. Tinder Plus allows users to change their location so they can find potential dates anywhere in the world and a “rewind” feature that lets users undo a left-swipe reject.

Tinder, which claims more than 26 million matches every day, charged lower rates for younger consumers because its market research showed that they were less able to afford premium services. A three-judge panel of The Los Angeles County Superior Court, however, rejected Tinder’s justification for the difference in charges.

“No matter what Tinder’s market research may have shown about the younger users’ relative income and willingness to pay for the service, as a group, as compared to the older cohort, some individuals will not fit the mold,” the 26-page ruling said. “Some older consumers will be ‘more budget constrained’ and less willing to pay than some in the younger group. … Because nothing in the complaint suggests there is a strong public policy that justifies the alleged discriminatory pricing. … Accordingly, we swipe left, and reverse.”

Candelore is no stranger to courtrooms. He has been involved in other high-profile cases on behalf of the nonprofit National Coalition for Men (NCFM). According to its website, the group seeks to raise awareness about how men and boys are affected by sex discrimination. Mother Jones reported in 2016 that Candelore and two other NCFM members filed suit in California against business networking and golf events in recent years that were open only to women. Both cases were later settled for an undisclosed amount of money.

Al Rava, who represents Candelore in the Tinder case, also served as counsel in the networking and golf course cases. He has cited the Unruh Act in many of the more than 150 discrimination cases he has filed over the past decade, including a challenge to an Oakland Athletics’ giveaway of baseball hats to female fans that was eventually settled.  

“In fact, I have been victorious in all my Unruh Civil Rights Act sex-discrimination lawsuits because, as a result of these lawsuits, every defendant stopped its unequal treatment of male and female consumers,'” Rava said. He added that the Tinder lawsuit isn’t related to the NCFM.  

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