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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

eHarmony, Inc. Settles Class Action Lawsuit over Same-Sex Matching

PASADENA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--eHarmony, Inc. has entered into an agreement to settle a class action lawsuit brought against the company. The action, Carlson, et. al., v. eHarmony, Inc., et al., was filed in 2007 on behalf of a class of gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals in California who alleged that they were unable to use the company’s website to be matched with same-sex partners.
“eHarmony is happy to move beyond this litigation so it can continue building Compatible Partners into a successful service”
The company has not admitted any wrongdoing or liability. The proposed settlement is subject to approval by the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, following notice to members of the class.

In March 2009, eHarmony launched a same-sex matching service called Compatible Partners. The settlement agreement includes provisions by which eHarmony will modify and maintain certain features on the and Compatible Partners websites to make them even more welcoming to people who seek same-sex matches. These provisions include:
  • Maintain the Compatible Partners website and the ability for people to select “man seeking man” or “woman seeking woman” options from a drop-down menu on the homepage
  • Identify Compatible Partners as a service “Brought to you by eHarmony” instead of “Powered by eHarmony”
  • Display eHarmony’s trademark logo on the Compatible Partners page
  • Indicate in the URL line, HTML line or a tab to first-time Compatible Partners users that they are on an eHarmony website
  • Include a “Gay Dating” link on the bottom of alongside other links to “Jewish Dating,” “Senior Dating,” “Hispanic dating,” and the like
The Settlement Agreement also provides for individuals seeking both same-sex matches and opposite-sex matches to pay a single subscription fee.

Additionally under the settlement, all claims will be dismissed and a $2 million settlement fund will be established. Approximately $500,000 will be designated as a fund for claims by the class. Any unclaimed portion of this fund will be donated to a charity designated by the court. Fees to the class counsel will be awarded by the court.

Terms for distribution of the settlement fund and other settlement terms will be disclosed in a notice to be sent to class members after preliminary court approval.

We are delighted that eHarmony is making its remarkable technology available to the gay and lesbian community in a way that is more welcoming and inclusive,” said Todd Schneider of Schneider Wallace Cottrell Brayton Konecky LLP, co-lead counsel for the plaintiff class.

eHarmony can be proud of the reputation that it has built as the best dating site on the Internet and it can be proud of the relationship that it is building with the gay and lesbian community,” said Jeremy Pasternak of the Law Office of Jeremy Pasternak, co-lead counsel for the plaintiff class.

This is an excellent agreement. It is gratifying to see eHarmony, Inc. support matching for the gay and lesbian community, which makes the Internet a more open place,” said Joshua Konecky of Schneider Wallace, co-lead counsel for the plaintiff class.

“eHarmony is happy to move beyond this litigation so it can continue building Compatible Partners into a successful service,” said Robert Freitas of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, outside counsel to the company.

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