Former TikTok Employees Retaliated Against For Claims Of Racial Discrimination

Former TikTok Employees Retaliated Against For Claims Of Racial Discrimination

TikTok is getting caught up—again—in discrimination accusations.

Two Black TikTok employees alleged they were fired after raising concerns to human resources, NPR reports. Nnete Matima and Joel Carter filed a class action charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the company on Sept. 21, claiming TikTok downplays complaints of racial discrimination and hosts retaliation practices against people for speaking out.

Matima, based in New York City, experienced extreme burnout only one year into her sales position at the Chinese-owned social media company. She was required to handle 75% of the sales outreach for the four-person team she worked on. Matima also learned she was excluded from meetings and heard of supervisors calling her racist names—often referred to as “black snake” behind her back.

She suffered from her first-ever panic attack just by seeing the building.

“It’s like you against the world in these situations; you’re mocked and ridiculed,” Matima said. “It brings you to a very dark place.”

Matima took her complaints to HR, but the claims were pushed to the side. After she filed a second complaint, she was fired. Carter and Matima say the companies’ HR practices will have a horrible effect on future employees who speak out.

Carter, who works in the Austin, Texas, office, said everything was great when he was hired as a risk analyst in 2021 and even promoted to a policy manager within his first year. Then things changed, and he started to experience the same things as Matima. In his claim, Carter says a new manager treated him worse than his white counterparts and excluded him from meetings.

His reputation around the office was being portrayed as “angry” and “tense,” and falsely accused him of “slamming doors.” The characterization of him as angry and tense perpetuates a “historic false narrative about people of color, especially Black people,” Carter wrote in his letter. “…When we claim to be mistreated in the workplace” and “dismisses the courage it took to raise these concerns.”

After going to HR and requesting a transfer, the department responded by saying there was no evidence of racial discrimination. Carter was later fired in August 2023.

According to CNN, a spokesperson from TikTok says they take employee claims “very seriously” and “have strong policies in place that prohibit discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. As an organization, we have a strong record of championing diversity and inclusion,” the rep said.

TikTok has been accused by Black creators of discrimination in the past. In May 2020, Black TikTok creators formed a protest against the company, accusing the company of censoring their content. Weeks after the death of George Floyd, TikTok admitted to a “technical glitch” in the system and acknowledged Black creator’s concerns of feeling “unsafe.”

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