Chief executive of woman-friendly dating app 'bullied colleague out of a job'

Rhonda Alexander
Rhonda Alexander's dating app claimed to create a 'safe space' for single women

A “passive-aggressive” chief executive of a woman-friendly dating app bullied a colleague out of a job, a tribunal heard.

Rhonda Alexander was the boss of Fluttr, a British app that claimed it would beat “Tinder Swindler”-style romance fraud and create a “safe space” for single women.

An employment tribunal heard that behind the scenes at the company Ms Alexander’s “downright rude” and “damaging” behaviour to staff had led to a series of complaints.

One victim was Laura Cameron Peck, the CEO of a sister start-up to Fluttr who reported Ms Alexander to bosses. She accused her of being “passive aggressive”, “manipulative” and of eroding the confidence of colleagues by “throwing eggs” at their suggestions.

But the tribunal heard that rather than address her concerns, senior executives turned on Ms Cameron Peck, forcing her out of her £120,000 a year job just three months after she started.

Now she has been awarded £97,361 in compensation for the way she was treated after blowing the whistle.

‘Bullying and rudeness’

The hearing in Manchester was told that Ms Cameron Peck – who had a successful career for over 35 years in the IT and digital services industry – was appointed to be CEO of digital company Wndr Social Ltd in August 2021.

Wndr was a subsidiary of newly formed firm the Ethical Social Group (ESG) which had another subsidiary, Fluttr, headed by Ms Alexander.

The tribunal heard that Ms Alexander’s behaviour at the company had led to a series of complaints to Ms Cameron Peck which she flagged to ESG’s founder and CEO, Graham Pullan in a Whatsapp message.

“She wrote about people contacting her in tears, talking about the bullying and rudeness they experienced and the way they had been treated, having eggs thrown at their efforts or suggestions and becoming silenced, deep professional experience being talked down by louder inexperienced and rude voices, confidence being eroded,” the hearing was told.

She later rang and emailed Mr Pullan to expand on the bullying and harassment being experienced by her and others.

“She wrote that she experienced much of Rhonda’s behaviour as passive aggressive and manipulative and at other times downright rude,” the tribunal heard.

”(Incidents) included calling out and trying to embarrass/humiliate colleagues in open settings, such as online meetings and adopting inappropriate and purposefully aggressive facial expressions and gestures on team/group video calls when someone she chose to be in confrontation with spoke, making it uncomfortable for others and for her target.”

One colleague had been reduced to tears and resigned as a result of their treatment, the hearing was told.

‘Degrading and detrimental treatment’

However, Ms Cameron Peck’s messages were ignored. Rather than try to tackle Ms Alexander’s behaviour, Mr Pullan took the decision to remove Ms Cameron Peck from meetings where she would encounter Ms Alexander.

In addition, the tribunal heard Mr Pullan began “belittling” her in public, reducing her to tears, while speaking in a “condescending and derogatory manner” along with Ms Alexander.

In October 2021, Ms Cameron Peck – who had also raised a number of concerns with Mr Pullan about the company’s business practices – was suspended. Nine days later she resigned.

In her resignation letter she accused Mr Pullan of “degrading and detrimental treatment”.

She wrote: “I feel that you have not dealt adequately with misconduct occurring over several months which has resulted in damage.

“I am one of those who has suffered, has been treated with inequity, and has been the shoulder of hope that others have chosen to cry on.”

Ms Cameron Peck sued ESG, Mr Pullan and two other company directors for detrimental treatment on the grounds of making protected disclosures, constructive unfair dismissal and breach of contract. 13 of her 37 claims were upheld.

Employment Judge Hilary Slater concluded that Mr Pullan had targeted her after she became an “irritant in his side” as the matters she was raising were “threatening his way of carrying on business”.

”[Her] complaints about Rhonda Alexander, if they had been properly pursued, could have threatened what [he] regarded as a good source of investment.”

The tribunal heard ESG ceased trading in late 2022.

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.