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Case Conclusion Date: 11.19.2008
Practice Area: Internet
Outcome: Settlement involving major new product launch
Description: http://www.eharmony.com/press/release/15 eHarmony, Inc. Settles with New Jersey Attorney General, Agrees To Launch Same-Sex Matching Service in 2009 PASADENA, Calif. – eHarmony, Inc. and the New Jersey Attorney General's Division on Civil Rights (DCR) have settled allegations that the company violated New Jersey's Law Against Discrimination (LAD) by failing to offer a same-sex matching service. As a result of the settlement agreement, eHarmony, Inc. will start a new service for same-sex matching called Compatible Partners by March 31, 2009. The settlement makes clear that eHarmony, Inc. has not been found in violation of the law. "Even though we believed that the complaint resulted from an unfair characterization of our business, we ultimately decided it was best to settle this case with the Attorney General since litigation outcomes can be unpredictable," said eHarmony, Inc. legal counsel Theodore B. Olson, a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP. "eHarmony looks forward to moving beyond this legal dispute, which has been a burden for the company, and continuing to advance its business model of serving individuals by helping them find successful, long-term relationships." The case originated in 2005 when a New Jersey resident filed a formal complaint with the State alleging that eHarmony violated his rights under the LAD by not offering a same-sex matching service. For more than three years, eHarmony vigorously contested the allegations of the complaint. On July 23, 2007, however, the Director of the DCR issued a Finding of Probable Cause that eHarmony had violated the LAD. eHarmony filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the finding, which was pending at the time of the settlement. eHarmony, Inc. matches singles seeking long-term relationships. Its patented Compatibility Matching System™ is based on years of research involving opposite-sex couples and their marriages. On average, more than 236 eHarmony members are married every day in the United States as a result of being matched by eHarmony, according to research conducted by Harris Interactive. "Strong demand for eHarmony's unique matching service is indicative of the incredible success that our diverse subscribers have had since we started our business more than eight years ago. With the launch of the Compatible Partners site, our policy is to welcome all single individuals who are genuinely seeking long-term relationships," said eHarmony Vice President of Legal Affairs Antone Johnson. The Compatible Partners site and eHarmony.com will both benefit from the company’s commitment to long-term relationships. The two sites will maintain their own matching pools, registration information, and subscriptions. The separate matching pools are based on whether the user chooses to seek an opposite- or same-sex relationship. As a result, users of the Compatible Partners site and eHarmony.com cannot be matched with each other. Under the settlement agreement, the company reserves the right to inform those using the new same-sex matching service that the Compatibility Matching System™ developed by eHarmony is solely based on research involving married heterosexual couples. For more information about the settlement: http://www.eharmony.com/njfaq. For more information about eHarmony, Inc.: http://www.eharmony.com/about/faq. To register for Compatible Partners: http://www.compatiblepartners.net.