Tinder can no longer charge higher rates to users aged 30 and over after a California court ruled on Monday that the practice was a form of age-based discrimination.
Tinder Plus, a premium version of the free dating service app Tinder, violated state civil rights law by charging users who were aged 30 and over a $19.99 subscription fee, while at the same time charging users under the age of 30 only a $9.99 or $14.99 subscription fee for the same features, according to a ruling handed down by the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles. The pricing had been in place since its release in March 2015.
Plaintiff Allan Candelore filed the suit in February 2016, alleging that Tinder Plus’ price differences violated the state's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which broadly outlaws discrimination based on sex, race, sexual orientation and age, among other classes.
According to the suit, Tinder’s rationale for the price difference is “reasonably based on market testing showing 'younger users' are 'more budget constrained' than older users, 'and need a lower price to pull the trigger.'"
Despite the reasoning, the practice still violated the Unruh Act, according to Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brian Currey, who wrote the 3-0 ruling.
“No matter what Tinder’s market research may have shown about the younger users’ relative income and willingness to pay for the service, as a group, as compared to the older cohort, some individuals will not fit the mold. Some older consumers will be ‘more budget constrained’ and less willing to pay than some in the younger group,” the ruling states.
Currey also stated, however, that a contradictory ruling does exist: a 2015 case in which a San Francisco luxury health club was allowed to give an age-based discount to 18- to 29-year-olds because the policy does not perpetuate any unpleasant stereotypes and benefits an age group that is often financially strapped.
It is unclear at this time if Tinder will take up the decision with the state Supreme Court. Neither Tinder nor its lawyer could be reached for comment.
Al Rava, who represented the plaintiff along with co-counsel Kim Kralowec, noted that the decision was a significant one with “potentially thousands of potential class members.”
“Hopefully, this decision will remind all dating apps and all businesses operating in California to do the right thing and simply treat all customers equally, no matter their customers' age, race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship and other personal characteristics [as] protected by California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act,” Rava said.
CORRECTION (Jan. 31, 2018, 3:40 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misspelled the names of the co-counsels representing the plaintiff. Their names are Al Rava, not Raza, and Kim Kralowec, not Krawlowec.