Grindr ‘Unlawfully’ Purged Staff at LGBTQ Dating App, Union Says

The union alleges severance agreements offered to former staff broke the law and the company illegally silenced workers.
grindr banner on nyse
Grindr on NYSE. Image Credit: Getty Images

Grindr United, the union representing workers at the LGBTQ dating app, filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company on Wednesday after over 80 workers were forced to resign due to a return-to-office policy that gave them two weeks to decide whether to move across the country or lose their jobs, according to a press release. 


The charge alleges that this policy was retaliatory against unionizing workers, and that the company also unlawfully silenced workers who asked questions about it. 

“The Employer eliminated a normal channel of communication used by employees to talk about workplace matters for the purpose of preventing them from engaging in Section 7 activity,” the charge states, referring to the section in the National Labor Relations Act that protects union organizing. “The Employer also unlawfully proffered a severance agreement with provisions that restrict employees exercise of their rights under the Act. This severance agreement is unlawful as drafted and is also unlawful because it was presented to workers in retaliation for having engaged in section 7 and/or Union activity.” 

The company initially instated the policy just two weeks after its workers announced they were unionizing with the Communications Workers of America. During those two weeks, workers said that company management did not communicate with them until the policy was announced on August 4 in an all-hands meeting. When an employee turned on their mic to ask a question, management ended the meeting. The press release stated that during the next all-hands meeting on August 17, management muted attendees.

“There were tons of questions on Slack about what this meant, what to do—and everything was asked to be funneled toward an anonymous email address,” said Quinn McGee, a former trust and safety product manager who lost their job as a result of the return-to-office policy, and a Grindr United organizer. When asked if the answers from the email address were informative, McGee said that they were “certainly nothing that I would consider was sufficient.” 


“It felt like they had put up a wall around themselves,” McGee continued. “There were two more weeks where we tried to ask for discussions, we tried to ask for delays, we tried to let them know that we saw this for what it is: a unilateral change in working conditions following the announcement of the union, which we believe is an unfair labor practice. And then two weeks later I lost my job. It’s devastating.” 

In response, a Grindr spokesperson told Motherboard that the union’s claims against the company have “no merit.”

“We have full confidence in our team and their ability to continue to drive the business forward and make the world and lives of our users freer, more tolerant, and more just,” the spokesperson said, in an emailed statement. “We are looking forward to returning to the office in a hybrid model in October and further improving productivity and collaboration for our entire team.”

“Our business and financial performance continue to be very positive,” the spokesperson continued. “We recently raised our annual guidance and are excited about the innovative product initiatives and the growth outlook for Grindr heading into 2024.”

Workers told Motherboard previously that they had started organizing last December, and that the union’s main goal would be to preserve the company culture by putting it in writing. “We want to enshrine our existing benefits in a contract so that they cannot be unilaterally taken away,” the union’s vision statement reads. One of the benefits listed is “remote first guaranteed with flexible hours to accommodate workers' lives.” 

One worker told Motherboard that after the forced resignations, only one designer, one product manager, and two iOS engineers remained. They said that around 45 percent of the company had accepted the resignation.

“It is unimaginably disappointing that dozens of our colleagues have had to leave their jobs because Grindr management did not want to sit down with workers and respect our right to organize,” said Erick Cortez, a knowledge specialist and union member, in a statement. “These decisions have left Grindr dangerously understaffed and raises questions about the safety, security and stability of the app for users.” 

The press release states that remaining workers have continued to organize, and that the union has sent the company a request to begin bargaining in light of a recent National Labor Relations Board case known as the Cemex decision. The decision instituted a new framework for union recognition, which states that if a company commits an unfair labor practice while workers are organizing, it must automatically recognize and begin bargaining with the union. 

“I don't know any other reasonable way to see that a union announcement was followed by two weeks of silence and then a sudden order for everyone to uproot their lives and their family’s lives to move across the country for no reason,” McGee said. “I'm not a National Labor Relations Board investigator, but I know where I'd be leaning just hearing that.”