In October 2022, a job applicant who claimed he was not offered a job at TikTok because he is aged in his 40s has lost his discrimination claim over allegedly being asked how he would handle “working with a team leader in his 20s”.

What was the job applicants’ claim against TikTok?

The job applicant attended three interviews for a post as an advertising service specialist with the social media company’s Arabic-speaking market. He wrote in his complaint form that a question about working with a team leader in his 20s “or something to that meaning” had been put to him at the third interview. He said his evidence for the remark was “the interview itself”. The applicant said all the team leaders in TikTok were young and that the company “needs to show that they have people over 40 working for them”. 

The applicant stated there was “no problem with TikTok” and that his only problem was “with the interviewer”. 

What was TikTok’s reaction to the claim?

The TikTok representative submitted interview notes which had “no reference to any question about reporting to younger team leaders”. It was mentioned that the applicant also had applied for other roles at the social media firm after being rejected and suggested this was “strange” for a claimant who said he had been discriminated against.

The interviewer, lead manager for TikTok’s ad service team in Dublin, said the requirement to build a diverse workforce was “one of the company’s core values” and “very strictly followed”.

The interviewer said the applicant had a “good attitude and was well prepared” at his third interview but was “slow to respond” and “took his time answering the questions”. He said he never asked Mr Mohamed about his age or reporting to a team leader in their 20s.

How did the WRC Adjudicator come to their decision?

The WRC adjudicating officer wrote that the applicant’s claim about a remark on being managed by a team member in his 20s “has no basis in fact” and that she was satisfied that the statement “was not made”.

The adjudicating officer found TikTok’s recruitment processes, which sought to hire people from diverse national, gender, age and language backgrounds, was robust, and noted that the successful candidates for the job were in their 30s and 40s. The applicant had claimed that all the team leaders in TikTok were young and that the company “needs to show that they have people over 40 working for them”.

She said the applicant had failed to shift the “burden of proving the absence of discrimination” to TikTok and found that his complaint was “not upheld”.

What does this case highlight?

This WRC case highlights that the law is likely to go against the individual who does not have a record of sufficient evidence to support their claim. The WRC Adjudication Officer can not award compensation without clear evidence of discrimination and wrongdoing. The Employment Equality Act 1998 outlaws discrimination in a wide range of employment and employment-related areas including recruitment and promotion, equal pay, working conditions, training or experience, and dismissal and harassment. The WRC rejected the job applicant’s claim under the Employment Equality Act as TikTok were not found to discriminate against him on any grounds.