Black creators aren’t the only people who seem to have grievances with TikTok.
According to CNN, two former employees have officially filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), asking the agency to look further into what they say was a work environment full of “toxicity and racism.” The Black workers claim they also experienced retaliation after speaking up about the racial discrimination that they say they faced while working for the company.
Nnete Matima recalled her excitement to join the TikTok family because so many Black creators had laid the groundwork and built the platform, which saw its rise in 2020 during the global pandemic.
However, after joining TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, last year, Matima is one of two workers who allege that they experienced discrimination in the workplace.
For instance, she says that her manager would set unrealistic expectations for her in comparison to her white peers, and even referred to her as a “black snake” behind her back.
“We are asking the EEOC to investigate TikTok’s pattern or practice of retaliation against workers who complain about discrimination,” read an official court document filed against the social media giant.
Alongside Matima, another former employee, Joël Carter, claims that after encountering repeated discrimination offenses at work and reporting it, he also faced retaliation for speaking up.
“After a successful first year, I began to experience racial discrimination from a new manager in 2022,” Carter stated in a post via LinkedIn. “I raised concerns about discrimination to TikTok and was subjected to months of retaliation.”
Once Carter discovered that Matima had a very similar experience (they both were terminated by TikTok in August 2023), the two joined forces to seek justice and ensure that others won’t have to go through the same encounters.
“Rather than holding anyone accountable, TikTok denied the blatant discrimination that Ms. Matima and Mr. Carter suffered, failed to stop it from continuing, engaged in sham ‘investigations’ of their complaints, took away their work, and then terminated Ms. Matima and Mr. Carter in retaliation for complaining about race discrimination and mistreatment,” the complaint continued.
In response to the allegations, TikTok maintains that it is a place where discrimination and unfair treatment are not welcomed.
“We take employee concerns very seriously, and have strong policies in place that prohibit discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace,” a company spokesperson said. “As an organization, we have a strong record of championing diversity and inclusion.”
Previous Complaints Made By Black TikTok Creators
As previously reported by AFROTECH, this is not the first time that a Black person has spoken out against the company. In 2021, a group of Black creators on the platform refused to create choreography for Megan Thee Stallion’s “Thot Sh*t” song, citing that non-Black TikTokers were stealing their moves without giving them any credit.
“It was more so just a statement as a Black creator existing within this digital space,” TikTok influencer Erick Louis told AFROTECH at the time. “The dynamic that I see displayed on TikTok is the likes of which I’ve never seen before, in terms of how the odds are stacked against us creators. Not only are we having to deal with the anti-Blackness on the app coming from non-Black folk – specifically white content creators – we’re also dealing with algorithmic anti-Blackness that’s embedded in the app that bans videos or [doesn’t allow] you to upload videos that have anything to do with Black content.”
As for the latest complaint, Matima and Carter hope that because they’ve gone public with their stories, it will encourage others with similar experiences to share theirs.