Feb 8, 2024 - Technology

TikTok sued by former executive alleging gender discrimination

The TikTok logo appears outside of the company's office

The TikTok logo is displayed outside a TikTok office on Aug. 27, 2020, in Culver City, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

A former executive at TikTok filed a complaint against the app and its parent company ByteDance on Thursday over allegations that she was subjected to discrimination and retaliation.

The big picture: Attorneys for Katie Puris, who was the Global Head of Brand & Creative at TikTok, claim she experienced multiple forms of discrimination and was "ultimately unlawfully terminated," per a court filing.

  • Puris is seeking "declaratory, injunctive, and equitable relief, as well as monetary damages."

Details: In the complaint, filed in a federal court in New York, Puris' attorneys allege that she was "subjected to disparate treatment and ultimately unlawfully terminated because Lidong Zhang [chairman of ByteDance] and other corporate executives determined that Ms. Puris lacked the docility and meekness specifically required of female employees."

They also claim that Zhang had a "stereotypical view of the way women should behave" and that Puris "did not fit that stereotypical gender mold."

  • Her attorneys also claim that when "Puris reported she was sexually harassed at an off-site TikTok event," the app and its parent company "failed to respond appropriately, causing Ms. Puris to choose between her own safety and work opportunities."
  • Her attorneys also claim that after she reported the alleged "discriminatory treatment and sexual harassment," TikTok and ByteDance "failed to take any corrective action."

What she's saying: "As a woman who started her career in 1995, I was taught to be quiet if I wanted to be successful. Gender discrimination and sexual harassment were commonplace, but speaking out was career suicide," Puris said in a statement regarding the complaint.

  • "Wisdom has taught me that I no longer need to be silenced or afraid to fight for change."

Representatives for TikTok and ByteDance did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment Thursday.

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