TikTok allegedly has a deeply sexist work environment with wildly outdated treatment of female employees, a damning new lawsuit by a former employee says. It comes three years after another former employee sued the company for making her watch distressing videos.
Former marketing executive Katie Puris, who was with the company for three years and worked out of its New York office, alleged in a sex discrimination lawsuit filed on Thursday that female employees were punished if they did not fit the “stereotypical gender mould”.
Named in the lawsuit is ByteDance chairman Lidong Zhang, who Puris claimed has a “stereotypical view of the way women should behave” and punished women who were not “docile” or “meek”.
“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 lawsuit states, per Deadline.
Puris alleged that she was put down and dismissed multiple times, and was often told to stay quiet about problematic incidents. At one point, she said she was told not to speak at meetings altogether, and alleged her team was encouraged to “make negative comments about her”.
When Puris had enough, she went to HR and made a complaint about “the treatment of women at TikTok, age discrimination, the sexual harassment at Cannes Lion and the overall work environment”.
“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 lawsuit said.
However, Puris claims that just days after her complaint she was fired for “performance reasons” — which she reckons is bullshit. Instead, she alleges she was put on a “kill list” by Zhang.
Puris is claiming damages for the firing, and also an order permanently banning TikTok from “unlawful” conduct.
TikTok is yet to comment on the lawsuit.