Two former employees of video-sharing platform TikTok, both African American, have initiated a federal class action lawsuit.
Nnete Matima and Joël Carter have lodged a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that they were subjected to racial discrimination during their tenure at the company.
They assert that their employment was unjustly terminated when they brought their grievances to the attention of TikTok's human resources department.
In a statement shared with The Hill by their attorney, Peter Romer-Friedman, Matima said, "When I told TikTok that my managers were discriminating against me, I was retaliated against in so many ways, my managers called me a 'Black Snake,' and TikTok terminated me. It was an absolute nightmare."
Matima, a business development representative, and Carter, a policy manager, assert unequal treatment at TikTok, a platform owned by Chinese tech giant ByteDance with 150+ million U.S. users.
"TikTok says that its 'mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.' But TikTok fosters fear and silence among its own workers. And TikTok's leadership pursues growth at all costs, even if it means discriminating and retaliating against black professionals like me," Carter said in a statement via counsel.
Romer-Friedman affirmed in the complaint that Matima and Carter initially raised their concerns with TikTok's human resources and management through internal complaints before initiating the federal claim.
"Most employers tell their workers to report discrimination. But when workers find the courage to file an internal discrimination complaint, they often suffer blatant retaliation and lose their jobs," he said.
"Every time an employer terminates a worker for filing a discrimination complaint, it sends a clear message to all workers at that company that there will be dire consequences if they stand up for their civil rights."
In a statement to The Hill, a TikTok spokesperson expressed the company's commitment to promoting diversity.
"We take employee concerns very seriously and have strong policies in place that prohibit discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace," the spokesperson said. "As an organization, we have a strong record of championing diversity and inclusion."
Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.
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