By Michael Y.P. Ang
No harm cheating on your spouse, says the Ashley Madison adultery website. Now a former employee is suing it for ….cheating, says the Canadian Press news agency .
In her legal suit, Dorian Silva claims she was given three weeks to create 1,000 fake female profiles meant to tempt men into using the site. She is asking for C$20million (S$23.8 million).
Silva, a Brazilian immigrant to Canada, says in her claim: “The purpose of these profiles is to entice paying heterosexual male members to join and spend money on the website. They do not belong to any genuine members of Ashley Madison — or any real human beings at all.”
She says the “enormous amount” of typing strained her wrists, but her complaints were ignored by the company.
In her claim, Silva says nobody at the company suggested there was anything “unlawful or improper” about the alleged phoney profiles, and that she was led to believe “that doing so was some sort of a normal business practice in the industry”.
Silva also said that, had she been aware of the “ethical and legal issues arising in relation to online fraud,” she would have turned down the work.
The suit was filed last year but stalled while the company petitioned the court to strike references to “ethics” and “unethical practices” from the statement of claim, but a Superior Court judge found the references necessary to describe “the factual context in which the injuries were sustained,” a decision that was upheld on appeal this month.
Ashley Madison is dimissing the lawsuit as nothing but a “frivolous” claim by an “opportunistic” ex-employee.
The company has issued a statement condemning the lawsuit, saying Silva is exaggerating her injuries in order to support demands for compensation that the company said escalated over time.
“Throughout this lawsuit, Ms. Silva appears to have continued to lead an active life and has shown no side effects from her so-called injury,” the company said.
It alleges Silva posted photos on social media sites that show her on “multiple vacations around the world” and “enjoying herself on a jet ski” — which it calls an “unlikely activity” for someone with damaged wrists.
Silva’s lawyer, Paul Dollak, said his client is “alarmed” that Ashley Madison appears to have accessed her Facebook account without her permission and after she stopped working for the company.
The photos, he said, “have nothing at all to do with her ability to type on the keyboard.”
He argued Silva had no other recourse but to sue since Ashley Madison refused to compensate her for her injuries and she wasn’t eligible for worker’s compensation.
While compensation for personal injuries is usually calculated based on how much that person has suffered, Dollak says that Silva is seeking a share of the profits generated by the profiles she created.
However, on its website, Ashley Madison states that it does not pre-screen members and cannot “guarantee the authenticity of any profile,” warning that “anyone who is able to commit identity theft can also falsify a dating profile.”