TikTok, the new(ish) social media kid on the block, claims some employee victims.

Tik Tok wordmark

TikTok [Public domain]

When it comes to employees getting fired for their social media use, the Mount Rushmore of platforms claiming these victims is Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat.

But, let’s talk a little bit about TikTok.

But, before I do that and apropos of the theme of this post, yo, I scored tickets to Guns N Roses (with opening act Smashing Pumpkins) playing Philadelphia in July. 🤘🤘🤘
Yes, if you’re going too, you can buy me an adult beverage. But, for now, let’s cue up some music.

What is TikTok?

From Wikipedia:

TikTok is a video-sharing social networking service owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based company founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. It is used to create short lip-sync, comedy, and talent videos. The app was launched in 2017 for iOS and Android for markets outside of China….The application allows users to create short music and lip-sync videos of 3 to 15 seconds and short looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds….TikTok was the most downloaded app in the US in October 2018, the first Chinese app to achieve this. As of 2018, it is available in over 150 markets and in 75 languages….In 2019, TikTok was announced to be the 7th most downloaded mobile app of the decade, from 2010 to 2019.

If you think that TikTok is mostly for the younger set, well, you’re probably right. For example, Lil Nas X was discovered on TikTok after his hit Old Town Road gained popularity and went viral on TikTok. Since then, it set a record for the longest-running No. 1 song on Billboard Hot 100.

Older people use the platform too. And get fired for it.

I read that there is an attorney with nearly 2 million followers. No, it’s not me. I also read about some former workers at a California airport who recorded this video and posted it to TikTok on January 24. I say ‘former’ because, apparently, it cost the employees their jobs.

Two of the men that appear in the video told Dom McAndrew and Shawna Khalafi of Your Central Valley (here) that the employees were still on the clock but had finished their work for the day. So, they decided to film a TikTok video.

Alyssa Newcomb at Today reported (here) that the video received over 51,000 likes. Gerren Keith Gaynor at Fox News reported (here) that users viewed the video over 300,000 times. That’s when, according to the men in the video, they heard from their bosses that the video had cost them their jobs.

Here is a statement from the Airport:

“In the video, the employees’ inappropriate behavior in the work environment displays poor judgment and does not reflect the conduct expected of individuals working at FAT. 

The company employing these individuals has taken corrective action concerning the parties involved, as well as instructed the removal of the unauthorized video from social media.  FAT is working with the company to retrain its staff on appropriate behavior and to prevent these types of events in the future.”

Instead of taking corrective action, could their employer have converted the employees’ 15 minutes of fame into something positive for both them and the company? I suppose. But that’s not for me to decide. I’m an employment lawyer, the drafter of social media policies, the harvester of sorrow. I’m ***checks notes***

I’m the pee in your employees’ bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios.

Employer takeaways.

Therefore, my advice to you HR Compliance heads is to take a page out of the employer’s playbook. Remind your employees that what they say or do on social media — especially while at work and on the clock — can dictate whether they are employees or become former employees.

Also, if it’s been a while since you’ve reviewed your social media policies — technology changes and so do the rules —  you may want to update them. Better yet, since a secret society of employment lawyers — Empluminati — invented social media policies many years ago, maybe have a lawyer look it over for you.


“Doing What’s Right – Not Just What’s Legal”
Contact Information