Employees at LGBTQ+ dating site Grindr are being asked to return to work in person.
The company gave employees two weeks to decide if they could move by October.
The company's employees say Grindr could be retaliating against them for trying to form a union.
Management at the popular LGBTQ+ dating app Grindr is asking workers to return to the office or lose their jobs, prompting outrage from employees who say the move will upend their lives.
According to a form sent to workers at Grindr on August 4, obtained by Vice's Motherboard, workers would need to confirm by August 17 whether or not they would move within 50 miles of Grindr's three offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, or the San Francisco Bay Area or lose their jobs at the end of the month.
The news comes two weeks after employees announced their effort to unionize under the Communications Workers of America, Grindr United. Grindr United posted Sunday that the pivot to in-person work by the company is a "bizarre coincidence."
The CWA has also filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board as a result of the return to office order, arguing that it is retaliation against union organizing.
July 20: we tell management that we have organized ourselves and request voluntary recognition.
July 20 - Aug 3: no contact from management. At all. None. Zero.
Aug 4: management announces we have two weeks to decide whether to uproot our lives or we're fired.
— Grindr United ✊ (@GrindrUnited) August 5, 2023
Rowan Rosenthal, an organizing committee member at Grindr United CWA, told Insider that the move has been a significant hit for Grindr's "majority queer" workplace, as well as for disabled members of the company.
"A big part of our vision as a union was to enshrine this benefit that we had in the past of remote first to accommodate those folks," Rosenthal told Insider. "A lot of people who are disabled or have neurodivergence or mental health concerns or caring for somebody that they love, it just makes it a lot more possible to do your best work when you have the flexibility to work from your home or go into an office in your city a few times a week or month."
Rosenthal told Insider that as of Monday, Grindr has given employees an opportunity to send in questions about the company's new policy but still has not addressed union organizers.
Grindr CEO George Arison told staff that the decision was "many months" in the making, per a memo obtained by Bloomberg.
In a statement to Insider, a company spokesperson said the company began "the process of transitioning away from 'remote-first' to hybrid" in April and that employees were informed of a future switch to hybrid work during an all-hands meeting in June — before the unionization effort was announced.
However, employees told The New York Times that the company told them to expect the transition after one or two quarters. Rosenthal told Insider that they were not at the all-hands meeting but said many employees expected that remote workers would be allowed to stay remote based on company communications.
"We were told that we were going to hire new workers in these specific cities, but specifically that this was not going to affect existing employees," Rosenthal said.
The company spokesperson also said that the decision to move to a hybrid-work model has "nothing to do with the NLRB election petition" and said, "We respect and support our team members' rights to make their own decision about union representation."
Grindr is just one of the latest companies to urge employees to return to the office. Amazon, Apple, Disney, Google, Meta, X (formerly Twitter), and dozens of other businesses are asking their white-collar employees to work in the office at least part of the time.
That model is unpopular among many workers, who say they would take a pay cut over an in-person job. According to a recent Wall Street Journal report, employers forcing a return to in-person work are seeing slower hiring rates.
Quinn McGee, an employee organizer at Grindr United CWA, told Vice the demands sent by Grindr — which McGee said has refused to meet with employees about the union drive — were "dehumanizing."
"To tell me that I have two weeks to decide whether or not to uproot my family's life for a job that won't come to the table and speak with me as an adult — it's dehumanizing," McGee told the publication.
Rosenthal, who lives in New York, told Insider that they are being asked to move to Los Angeles as a member of the design team. To do this, they said, would mean that they would have to leave their family and community on the East Coast.
They also said that it would affect their goals of eventually getting gender-affirming surgery.
"It feels really awful and scary to be asked to either do this or resign from my job, functionally," Rosenthal said. "In terms of other return-to-office orders that I've seen other companies instate, it just feels shocking, to be honest with you."
Update: August 14, 2023 — This story has been updated to include quotes from Rowan Rosenthal, an organizing committee member for Grindr United CWA.
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