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All you need is love... and a $2 million settlement fund. That is just what a class of plaintiffs will receive based on the settlement reached Tuesday, with online matchmakers eHarmony.com. eHarmony, known for its "scientific" method of matching couples supposedly based on compatibility of life goals and values (seen the commercials?), will now extend its valuable services to same sex couples seeking true love. Just in time for Valentine's Day.
This class action civil rights lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles in 2007, actually comes after another suit, filed by a gay man in New Jersey in 2005, and taken up by the N.J. Attorney General. Alleging discrimination after his request for a match was denied because he was gay, the suit settled and resulted in a separate site for same sex couples being set up by the company. eHarmony agreed to pay the state $50,000, and $5,000 to the man who originally brought the suit, 46-year-old Eric McKinley.
The California lawsuit claims eHarmony violated a California law that prohibits companies from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The company has agreed to place a gay dating link at the bottom of its home page where there now are links for black, Hispanic, Jewish, Christian and seniors and will no longer double charge same sex couples for using both sites as had been the policy previously.
The company will also set up a $2 million settlement fund, with about $500,000 set aside for gay, lesbian and bisexual Californians who can show they were harmed by eHarmony's policies. However, proving actual harm caused by a lack of a match from eHarmony may be harder than finding true love in the first place.
The settlement agreement awaits final approval from the court.