Tik Tok may be a major source of news for people under 30, but the ByteDance-owned social media platform has today been accused of living in the 1950s and worse when it comes to women in the workplace.
The social media platform and its chairman Lidong Zhang has “a stereotypical view of the way women should behave” and punishes them if they don’t conform to that “stereotypical gender mold,” former marketing executive Katie Puris alleges in a sex discrimination and retaliation lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in New York .
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In fact, Puris and her Wignor attorneys make those allegations very bluntly.
“After Ms. Puris—one of the most senior female executives in the United States—was invited to attend and participate in bi-weekly meetings with Lidong Zhang, the Chairman of ByteDance, she was subjected to disparate treatment and ultimately unlawfully terminated because Lidong Zhang and other corporate executives determined that Ms. Puris lacked the docility and meekness specifically required of female employees,” the jury seeking filing states.
In a tick tock of a different nature, Puris’ suit details the circumstances and conditions of her three years at Tik Tok — and it certainly reads like Mad Men without any of the wit. After numerous alleged putdowns and dismissive reactions to her by ByteDance boss Zhang, Puris was told to stay quiet about said incidents and not even speak in company meetings anymore. Once the exec learned that she was on the Beijing-based Zhang’s “kill list,” that her immediate team were under pressure “to make negative comments about her,” lamented the long workday “996 culture, the ongoing “micromanagement,” the overall treatment of female staffer and a supposed drunk come-on by an ad exec, and more, Puris asserts she had enough.
“On September 23, 2022, Ms. Puris emailed Jimenez and expressed concerns about the treatment of women at TikTok, age discrimination, the sexual harassment at Cannes Lion and the overall work environment,” the ex-Head of the Global Brand and Creative Organization at Tik Tok says she told Wendy Jimenez, Tik Tok’s Global Human Resources chief. “Specifically, Ms. Puris expressed concerns that very few women had been named to permanent leadership roles during the North America reorganization; the way TikTok handled the sexual harassment incident at Cannes Lion; and the emphasis at TikTok on hiring ‘young, fresh talent,'” the suit adds.
Then the hammer came down.
“Just days later, Ms. Puris was fired for ‘performance reasons,” the nine claim action say. “Pappas delivered the news of Ms. Puris’ firing, which was unusual because she was no longer Ms. Puris’ manager and the performance cycle had not been completed,” it continues of the interaction with Tik Tok COO Vanessa Pappas. “TikTok never addressed Ms. Puris’ previous protected activity. “
A former Google and Facebook executive, Puris is asking for a variety of damages, as well as an “injunction and order permanently restraining Defendants from engaging in such unlawful conduct.”
Tik Tok declined to comment on today’s lawsuit when contacted by Deadline.
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