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Online Dating Magazine > Dating Industry > eHarmony Same-Sex Matchmaking Settlement

Settlement Agreement Between eHarmony and the State of New Jersey

 

In March 2005, a man named Eric McKinley filed a complaint against eHarmony and Dr. Neil Clark Warren with the State of New Jersey. The complaint alleged Discrimination against gays and lesbians.

In November 2008, the case was settled and as a result, the complaint against eHarmony and Dr. Neil Clark Warren was dismissed.

Here are the terms of the settlement (Company refers to eHarmony.com. Complainant refers to Eric McKinley who filed the complaint):

1. The parties hereto stipulate that this Agreement shall fully dispose of all issues in controversy between them with regard to this matter.

2. The Director of the Division on Civil Rights affirms that the Division has not made any findings based upon the merits of this matter, having found probable cause but not having made an adjudication on the merits, and having held in abeyance Respondents' motion for reconsideration pending negotiation of the within settlement.

3. In consideration for the dismissal, with prejudice, of the complaint in this matter, Company (eHarmony) agrees to pay the amount of $50,000 for the Division's administrative expenses, by check made payable to "Treasurer, State of New Jersey," no later than October 31, 2008.

4. In consideration for the dismissal, with prejudice, of the complaint in this matter, and a General Release by Complainant of any and all statutory or other claims, demands, causes of action, damages, or expenses of any kind or nature whatsoever, against Respondents, and their predecessors, successors, affiliates, officers, directors, agents, and employees, that have accrued up to the date this Agreement is signed, and to reimburse him for time spent and expenses incurred in the prosecution of the complaint in this matter, Company agrees to pay the amount of $5,000 to Complainant Eric McKinley, no later than October 31, 2008.

5. In consideration for the dismissal, with prejudice, of the complaint in this matter, Company agrees to provide same-sex relationship matching services in accordance with the following terms:

a. The eHarmony.com Website shall provide options for users to identify themselves as a male seeking a male or a female seeking a female, with accessibility, registration procedures and subscription flow substantially similar to that provided to users seeking opposite-sex matches. The same-sex matching services may be provided through a new or differently-named Website operated by Company.

b. If the above same-sex option links users to a new or differently-named Website operated by Company, they homepage of that Website shall identify it as an affiliate of or provided by Company.

c. Same-sex matching services shall be provided using the same or equivalent technology and service quality, and with the same terms and fees for the consumer, as provided for opposite-sex matching services. Company reserves the right to accompany its offer of same-sex matching services with a statement explaining that Company's Compatibility Matching System was developed on the basis of research limited to married heterosexual couples.

d. Company shall provide a free membership for a term of one year to Complainant, and for a term of six months to the first 10,000 users registering for same-sex matching within one year of the initiation of the same-sex matching service provided by Company.

e. Company shall include photos of same-sex couples in the "Diversity" section of the eHarmony-inc.com Website as successful same-sex matches are made using the same-sex matching service provided by Company, and Company shall similarly include photos of same-sex couples and individual users of the same-sex matching service in Company's advertising of the same-sex matching service.

f. Within thirty (30) days of the initiation of the same-sex matching service provided by Company, the anti-discrimination statements located on Company's Websites, handbooks, and publications shall be amended to specifically indicate that Company does not discriminate, among other things, on the basis of "sexual orientation."

g. Company shall implement (a) through (d) above by March 31, 2009.

h. Company shall initiate the offer of same-sex matching services in good faith, and attempt in good faith to maintain a successful same-sex matching service. In no event shall Company discontinue the offer of same-sex matching services within two-years.

i. Company shall make a good faith commitment to advertise and/or employ public relations and/or marketing dedicated to its same-sex matching service, and shall enlist the assistance of a media consultant experienced in promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of gay and lesbian people in the media, to determine the most effective way of reaching the gay and lesbian communities.

6. Upon execution by the Division and the parties, this Settlement AGreement, General Release and Consent Order shall operate as a complete and final disposition and General Release of the charges contained in the verified complaint in this matter.

7. Nothing in this Agreement shall be deemed to be an admission of liability on behalf of Respondents.

8. The Parties will discuss in good faith the timing and content of any announcement by either of them of the execution of this Settlement Agreement, General Release and Consent Order.

9. Upon execution of this Settlement Agreement, General Release and Consent Order by the Parties, this matter shall be dismissed with prejudice subject to the terms listed above.

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