Popular dating site Tinder has a premium tier with different prices based on age groups and an appeals court has just ruled that this practice is discriminatory against those older than 30. The more feature-packed Tinder Plus tier of the mobile app costs $9.99 per month for users under 30 but goes up to $19.99 per month for those above that age. Tinder justified this discrepancy by arguing that it wanted to make the service more accessible for young people, as they are often more financially constrained than older individuals. A man named Allan Candelore, however, filed a lawsuit against the dating site, claiming that Tinder Plus discriminates based on age, thus violating California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) and the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
A lower court had previously accepted Tinder’s explanation that it simply wants to make the premium service more affordable for young users, but a California appeals court has now ruled in favor of the plaintiff. The new ruling basically reverses the lower court’s decision from 2015, siding with Candelore that Tinder’s pricing scheme does indeed discriminate based on age. The court explained that regardless of the market research Tinder may have conducted and the results it may have obtained regarding the overall income of younger users and their likelihood to pay for the premium service, not everyone is in the same position. Some younger users may earn more than some of those above age 30, for instance, which makes the pricing scheme based on age unfair.
The appeals court concluded that Tinder’s pricing model discriminates against individuals over 30 and violates both the UCL and the Unruh Act, relying on a class-based, arbitrary generalization about the income of those in particular age groups to set higher prices for older users. The court even made a joke, concluding its ruling by noting: “Accordingly, we swipe left, and reverse.” For those unfamiliar with the dating site, Tinder relies on swipes to make matches: users swipe right if they like someone, or swipe left if they disapprove of their profile. Tinder is available as a free service but the Tinder Plus tier that launched back in 2015 brings additional features such as extra “Super Likes” and profile boosts. It’s presently unclear whether the company is planning to appeal the decision though that seems like a probable scenario.