Ex-TikTok official says ByteDance chairman has ‘kill list’ of employees, ‘stereotypical views’ on women
Katie Ellen Puris has filed a lawsuit in a New York court against TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance.
Lidong Zhang, the chairman of TikTok's Beijing-based parent ByteDance, has an ‘employee kill list’ and a ‘stereotypical way of how women should behave,’ an ex-managing director at TikTok has claimed in her lawsuit against the company and its parent firm.
Katie Ellen Puris, who joined TikTok in 2019 and was terminated in September 2022 for ‘performance reasons,’ filed the lawsuit in a New York federal court on Thursday, accusing ByteDance of ‘discrimination and retaliation.’
A former Google and Facebook employee, she was hired by TikTok's New York office as a managing director and head of business marketing in the United States, and, within just two months of joining, promoted to lead the global business marketing team, as per the complaint.
The ‘kill list’
By the second quarter of 2021, however, it was ‘very evident’ that Puris was on Zhang's so-called ‘kill list,’ the lawsuit said, adding that as a result, TikTok began ‘minimising’ her role, and left her out of certain decisions that would impact her team.
"Part of Lidong Zhang's ‘kill list’ approach was to build a case any employee he placed on the list and instruct other employees to do the same. Her health began to suffer under the stress and pressure after she became a part of his list,' according to the complaint.
Views on women
On his views on women, the lawsuit stated that he and other executives determined that Puris, one of the senior-most female executives in the US, ‘lacked the docility and meekness specifically required of female staffers.’
Additionally, Zhang was of the view that the way Puris celebrated her team's accomplishments, was not in line with the stereotypical gender mold, it added.
The complaint further stated that in 2022, Puris was sexually harassed by a marketing company worker in France, but TikTok ‘failed to respond appropriately.’