- Two Black TikTok employees filed a class-action charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Sept. 21 alleging ByteDance Ltd., TikTok’s parent company, violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and state laws by racially discriminating against them and then retaliating when they raised concerns about the discrimination, according to the charge documents filed with EEOC.
- In the complaint, one worker, alleged her manager set a higher sales outreach quota for her than for her White colleagues, gave her sales leads to her White peers and kept her from transferring to another department in retaliation. She also alleged being called derogatory names by her supervisor and the vice president. “I was retaliated against in so many ways … It was an absolute nightmare,” Matima said in a statement through Peter Romer-Friedman Law PLLC, a public interest law firm representing the two workers.
- The other employee, who worked as a policy manager on TikTok’s ad policy team, said his direct manager kept him from attending meetings where he claimed the worker’s work as his own, removed him from team projects and reassigned him to work as an assistant to a White ad policy manager, who had the same title as him. The supervisor also allegedly solicited complaints from his colleagues to show he was “frustrated, angry and tense,” which was at odds with his previous annual performance review. TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The EEOC is in charge of enforcing federal laws, like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, that ban discrimination in the workplace over race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability and genetic information.
Despite this oversight, Black workers regularly report discrimination at work. An August survey found that Black workers were among those who disproportionately experienced discomfort in the workplace.
Discrimination sometimes stems from appearance; 66% of Black women said they change their hair for a job interview, and 25% said they haven’t gotten an interview because of their hair, according to the CROWN 2023 Workplace Research Study, which was co-commissioned by Dove and LinkedIn and released in February. Black women with coily or textured hair were twice as likely to experience microaggressions at work than their counterparts with straight hair, the report found.
Black workers in the U.S. also face more barriers to mental health services, according to a July report from The Hartford and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Black employees were more likely to report exclusion, hostility and discrimination in the workplace that negatively influenced their mental health, the report found.