Judge Certifies Class Action Against eHarmony for Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation, Names SWCK Class Counsel.
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SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 20, 2008 – The Honorable Victoria Chaney of the California Superior Court in Los Angeles has granted the motion for class certification in the case against eHarmony.com for denying its services to people based on their sexual orientation. The suit was originally filed on behalf of all gays, lesbians and bisexuals in California who were denied services based on their sexual orientation.
eHarmony.com, headquartered in Pasadena, Calif., claims to be the internet's number one trusted relationship services provider. The online dating service also claims to be available to millions of people of all ages, ethnicities, national origins and religious and political beliefs that are seeking compatible long-term relationships. However, the company's policy has been to deny its service to anyone seeking a relationship with someone of the same sex.
“eHarmony's refusal to offer its service to people based on their sexual orientation has been a blatant violation of California civil rights laws," says Joshua Konecky of Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky, LLP, who is representing the plaintiffs.
The same day the California Court certified the case as a class action, eHarmony.com announced a settlement with the Attorney General in New Jersey resolving claims of discrimination under state law. Konecky commented on the matter by noting: “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. However, words are not enough; the next step is to ensure that eHarmony’s commitment is effectively implemented and enforceable by the Court.”
In addition to injunctive relief, the court certified the plaintiff’s claims for damages on behalf of all gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals who have attempted to use eHarmony.com at 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, but just that they visited eHarmony.com to seek a same sex match and were unable to do so. There will be further proceedings to determine how and when such individuals will be able to submit claims for damages in the case. Additional information can be found by calling 415.421.7100 or by submitting an inquiry on www.schneiderwallace.com.
The class action complaint also names eHarmony.com’s founder, president and CEO, Dr. Neil Clark Warren as a defendant. Warren started eHarmony.com with the help of James Dobson of “Focus on the Family.”
Schneider Wallace Cottrell Konecky LLP is a dedicated group of California trial lawyers committed to continuing the work of the civil rights movement through individual and class action litigation. For 15 years, the firm’s attorneys have handled class action lawsuits involving disability rights employment discrimination wage and hour and consumer rights. On the Web: www.schneiderwallace.comThe Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak is a San Francisco-based firm focused on the representation of individuals in employment and other civil rights matters. On the Web: www.pasternaklaw.com
“Other major dating services on the internet offer their services to heterosexuals, bisexuals and homosexuals alike. The fact that eHarmony excludes people based on sexual orientation is not a reflection of sound business decisions but rather discrimination, pure and simple,” added Jeremy Pasternak of The Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak, who is also representing the plaintiffs.