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Business News/ Companies / News/  TikTok executive says she was fired for lacking ‘docility’
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TikTok executive says she was fired for lacking ‘docility’

Former head of global marketing at TikTok, Katie Ellen Puris, has filed a lawsuit against the company and parent ByteDance, alleging sex and age discrimination. Puris claims she was fired for not fitting the stereotypical view of how women should behave

/File Photo of the TikTok logo is pictured outside the company's U.S. head office in Culver City, California (EUTERS/Mike Blake)Premium
/File Photo of the TikTok logo is pictured outside the company's U.S. head office in Culver City, California (EUTERS/Mike Blake)

TikTok Inc.’s former head of global marketing said she was fired because ByteDance Ltd. Chairman Zhang Lidong and other executives determined she “lacked the docility and meekness" they believed was required of female employees.

The claim was part of a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Manhattan against the social media service and its parent company, ByteDance, on behalf of Katie Ellen Puris, who joined TikTok as managing director and US head of business marketing in December 2019. 

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Puris said she was “extraordinarily successful" at the company and was eventually promoted to lead the global business marketing team within two months. But she claims that after she began participating in biweekly meetings with Zhang, she was “subjected to disparate treatment" and ultimately fired.

“The disparate treatment Ms. Puris experienced only increased as she neared 50 years old and company executives made it clear that they preferred young, less experienced employees who they believed to be more innovative and pliable," lawyers for the former executive said in their complaint. 

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The suit comes just months after ByteDance was accused of racism and retaliation by Black former employees who allege the company terminated them because they spoke up against discrimination in a complaint with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the suit. The complaint includes sex and age discrimination claims. 

Puris, a former Google and Facebook executive, says she was fired because she lacked the “docility and meekness" required of female employees and didn’t fit the “stereotypical view of the way women should behave" that Zhang held. 

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She says that when she reported that she was sexually harassed at an industry event in France in June 2022 by the managing director of an advertising agency, the company forced her to choose between safety and work opportunities. TikTok then gutted her team, gave her a “devastatingly low-performance review," denied her annual bonus, moved her out of her position and ultimately fired her.

The case is Puris v TikTok Inc., 24-cv-944, US District Court, Southern District of New York. 

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This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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Published: 09 Feb 2024, 06:35 AM IST
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