Katie Puris, a former senior executive at TikTok, has filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination based on age and gender during her three-year tenure with the company.
Puris claims she faced unequal treatment, retaliation for raising concerns, and eventual termination, allegedly due to “performance reasons” according to TikTok.
This lawsuit adds to existing criticisms against TikTok, including allegations of racial discrimination and retaliation raised by former Black employees.
Puris had previously filed a charge of discrimination and retaliation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The complaint outlines instances where Puris felt discriminated against, including being subjected to disparate treatment based on gender stereotypes and ageism.
Puris alleges that senior leaders at TikTok openly favored hiring younger, less experienced employees and that she faced retaliation after expressing concerns about her workload and discriminatory treatment.
Puris was invited to ByteDance chairman Lidong’s bi-weekly meetings in 2020, according to the legal filing.
She claims she was given a five to 10-minute timeslot to share updates from her business marketing team.
‘It became clear immediately that Lidong Zhang was displeased with the way Ms. Puris led her presentations,’ the lawsuit states.
‘Because she celebrated her team’s successes and achievements, which he felt was inappropriate because he believes that women should always remain humble and express modesty. Essentially, Lidong Zhang believes women should be quiet.’
Puris claimed she asked to control her document during one meeting but that ‘Lidong Zhang found offensive because he believed women did not have the right to even ask for such things’.
Additionally, Puris claims she was sexually harassed at a work event and that TikTok’s response to her report was inadequate. The lawsuit also highlights concerns over TikTok’s ties to its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, suggesting that despite leadership changes, control over key departments remained with ByteDance executives in China.
Puris seeks unspecified financial damages in her lawsuit against TikTok.