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Class Action Lawsuit Against eHarmony Certified

(onlinedatingmagazine.com - November 20, 2008) A California Superior Court judge has certified a class action lawsuit against eHarmony.com for discrimination against gays and lesbians in California. The news comes one day after eHarmony settled a case in the State of New Jersey where a gay man accused the company of discrimination. In that settlement, eHarmony agreed to open up a service that matches gays and lesbians.

That announcement had no affect in the California case, which is moving forward.

“We are encouraged that after years of discrimination, eHarmony finally appears to be recognizing that it must open its services to everyone in the general public, regardless of sexual orientation," says Joshua Konecky of Schneider Wallace Cottrell Brayton Konecky, LLP, who is representing the plaintiffs.  " However, words are not enough; the next step is to ensure that eHarmony’s commitment is effectively implemented and enforceable by the Court.”

Konecky says that up to this point eHarmony's refusal in matching gays has been a "blatant violation of California civil rights laws."



In addition to injunctive relief, Judge Victoria Chaney of the California Superior Court in Los Angeles certified the plaintiff’s claims for damages on behalf of all gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals who have attempted to use eHarmony any time since May 31, 2004.  In the class certification order, the court noted that such individuals would not need to demonstrate actual injury to obtain damages. They only have to assert that they visited eHarmony.com to seek a same sex match and were turned away from being able to do so.

“Other major dating services on the internet offer their services to heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals alike," says Jeremy Pasternak of The Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak, who is also representing the plaintiffs.  "The fact that eHarmony excludes people based on sexual orientation is not a reflection of sound business decisions but rather discrimination, pure and simple.”

The lawsuit was originally filed on May 31, 2007, taking it nearly a year and half to gain certification status.The lawsuit was filed by Linda Carlson, who attempted to sign up for eHarmony in February, 2007, but was denied access based on her sexual orientation. Carlson proceeded to write eHarmony explaining that its anti-gay business policy was discriminatory, but there was no change made to eHarmony's policty to accomodate same-sex matching.

“Such outright discrimination is hurtful and disappointing for a business open to the public in this day and age,” said Carlson at the time of the original filing.

eHarmony has long maintained that its research-based scientific approach to matchmaking was built upon matching heterosexuals and that they have no scientific experience in matching potential same-sex partners. However, yesterday, in order to resolve the New Jersey case, eHarmony agreed to get into same-sex matching through a new online relationship service called Compatible Partners that will debut in early 2009.

Related Links
eHarmony to Match Gays and Lesbians
eHarmony and State of New Jersey Settlement Agreement
History of eHarmony

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