E-Harmony Settles Gay Discrimination Lawsuit

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LOS ANGELES -- After two years of legal wrangling, the online dating service eHarmony.com has agreed to settle a lawsuit that claimed it discriminated against homosexuals.

The company has agreed to make the site more "welcoming" to people searching for same sex matches and will pay $500,000.

Under a proposed settlement filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, eHarmony will also link its straight and gay Web site, called Compatible Partners, and allow bisexual people to use both websites without paying double fees.

The eHarmony site already provides links for Christian, Jewish, Hispanic, black, senior and local dating.

Plaintiff's attorney Todd Schneider says the company will pay $500,000 to an estimated 150 Californians to settle the class-action suit, plus around $1.5 million in court and attorney's fees. California residents who have filed written complaints with the company will receive $4,000 each from the settlement funds.

The website was founded in 2000 by clinical psychologist Neil Clark Warren, an evangelical Christian. It did not provide same-sex matching services until last year, claiming that its compatibility models were based on studies of married heterosexual couples.

As part of the California agreement, the Compatible Partners site will display the eHarmony logo "in a prominent position," and will state that the service is "brought to you by eHarmony." The site currently states that it is "powered by eHarmony."

The company didn't admit any wrongdoing.

A judge must approve the settlement. A court date is scheduled for Feb. 3.

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