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Court Swipes Wrong Way in Tinder Age Discrimination Appeal

By George Khoury, Esq. on January 30, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In typical appellate court fashion, while attempting to make a cute quip in the decision reversing the dismissal of the class complaint, Candelore v. Tinder, alleging age discrimination against the dating app Tinder, the court swiped the wrong way. Nevertheless, it's still pretty funny that at the end of the introduction, the opinion actually states: "Accordingly, we swipe left, and reverse."

And while this cute language is notable on its own, the facts and issues in the case are also legally fascinating, particularly for California litigators familiar with one of the plaintiffs' bar's favorite causes of action in the state: Unruh.

Which Way Do You Swipe What?

Had the court run a quick Google search on what it means to swipe left or right on the app, they would have learned that in common parlance, swiping right means you agree, and swiping left means no. 

Granted that the plaintiffs were appealing, and the plaintiffs won, it would seem the court actually swiped right on the appeal by granting it and reversing. Sure, some might argue that the court was swiping left on defendant's arguments, but that's just getting overly technical now, isn't it?

Swipe Happens

Regardless of whether the court swiped in the right direction, the holding is bound to create quite a stir. The court found that Tinder, based on the allegations in the complaint, violated the Unruh Act by charging users over 30 more for subscription fees than users under 30. While this sort of direct age discrimination isn't so clearly illegal under federal law, under Unruh, which was used to abolish "ladies nights" across the state, state law clearly doesn't permit it. In short, the court found it to be age discrimination based on the fact that Tinder expected that older users could afford to pay more to subscribe.

The court did note that there are some permissible price distinctions based on age, such as discounts for seniors and children, but those tend to be rooted in public policy rather than a company's desire to maximize revenue from certain age demographics.

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