American dating service, eHarmony accused of discrimination

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

An online dating service is being sued for allegedly discriminating against lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

Linda Carlson from North Carolina tried to use the eHarmony website, widely advertised in America, to find a partner of the same sex. She found that she could only register as a “woman seeking a man” or a “man seeking a woman.”

She wrote to the company to complain but was told that the website would not change it’s policy. Her case which has been filed at the Los Angeles County Superior Court claims that by offering only to allow straight searches, the company violates California’s laws that bans discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexuality.

The case names both the company and it’s founders, psychologist Nick Clark Warren and his wife Marylyn.

Ms Carlson seeks a jury trial:”Such outright discrimination is hurtful and disappointing for a business open to the public in this day and age.”

In a statement defending their current operations, eHarmony said: “The research that eHarmony has developed, through years of research, to match couples has been based on traits and personality patterns of successful heterosexual marriages. Nothing precludes us from providing same-sex matching in the future, it’s just not a service we offer now based upon the research we have conducted.”

In the UK, all major online dating services allow lesbians, gays and bisexual searches as is required by the Equality Act.

However, some gay services do continue to limit the ability of straight people to use their services. With no case law of merit, it is unclear if this could also be considered as discrimination on the basis of the sexuality of straight men and women.