Former TikTok executive files lawsuit alleging discrimination

Katie Puris, former Global Head of Brand & Creative at TikTok, filed a lawsuit this week in Manhattan federal court, alleging retaliation and termination due to lacking “docility and meekness” expected of female employees by Chinese owners.

Puris claims she was fired in 2022 after internally raising concerns about gender and age discrimination, linked to a preference for hiring young executives.

She reported a sexual harassment incident at a TikTok event, alleging inadequate company response, leading her to miss another event involving the harasser.

TikTok and ByteDance, its Beijing-based parent company, named as defendants, did not immediately respond to the allegations.

Initially receiving positive reviews after joining in 2019, Puris was eventually invited to meet bi-weekly with ByteDance’s chairman, Lidong Zhang.

However, Zhang disapproved of Puris’ celebrations of her team’s successes, deeming it inappropriate for women, according to the lawsuit.

Puris alleges increased micromanagement and project cancellations ensued.

In a 2021 leadership meeting, former ByteDance CEO Yiming Zhang expressed a preference for young hires, citing older individuals as less adaptable.

Puris, nearing 50, raised concerns to TikTok’s global HR head, but her firing was attributed to “performance reasons,” the lawsuit claims.