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Former female founder and executive sues employer for sexual harassment and discrimination

Today, record numbers of women are pursing higher educational degrees and working outside the home. For many, the personal and financial freedoms that come with building a career and earning an income are a welcome change from the limited opportunities and societal expectations forced upon women of previous generations.

While many changes and advancements have been made in American society with regard to women's rights, particularly in the workplace, serious problems and deficiencies still exist. In recent years the technology industry, which is primarily dominated by Internet start-ups, has enjoyed tremendous growth and prosperity.

The vast majority of these successful Internet companies were founded by men and continue to be heavily male-dominated. However, roughly two years ago, one 24-year-old woman named Whitney Wolfe was able to successfully break into the male-dominated Internet realm when she and four others founded a successful online dating start-up service known as Tinder.

More recently, Wolfe left Tinder and filed a lawsuit against the company that she helped found and its owner amid allegations of sexual discrimination and harassment. In the lawsuit, Wolfe asserts she was the victim of "a barrage of horrendously sexist, racist and otherwise inappropriate comments, emails and text messages," by Tinder's chief executive and chief market officer, Justin Mateen. 

Upon conducting an internal investigation into the matter, a Tinder spokesperson confirmed the company has discovered inappropriate texts and emails that were sent to Wolfe from Mateen and he has since been suspended. However, Wolfe contends her previous reports and pleas to management about the harassment were ignored and that she was finally forced to leave her executive position at the company.

Additional claims in the lawsuit include details related to why Wolfe's name was often omitted from being part of Tinder's funding partners. Upon questioning her male counterparts about why her name was not mentioned in a news story about how the company was founded, she was told "you're a girl" and that a "24-year-old girl founder would devalue the company."

Source: The New York Times, "Tinder Is Target of Sexual Harassment Lawsuit," Jenna Wortham, July 1, 2014

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