TikTok's US employees are scared they won't get paid if the app is banned, and now they're planning to sue the Trump administration
- A US
TikTokemployee, Patrick Ryan, has launched a crowdfunding campaign to sue the Trumpadministration over President Donald Trump's executive order seeking to ban TikTok.
- Ryan believes the executive order will mean TikTok can't pay its 1,500 US employees, and he says his lawyer plans to file a suit next week.
- Trump last week signed the executive order, which bars US individuals and businesses from doing business with TikTok's Chinese parent company,
ByteDance, starting September 20.
- "The fear is that we will not be able to receive our paychecks after September 20," Patrick Ryan, a technical program manager, told Business Insider. "I'm concerned my constitutional rights are being violated here."
The long-awaited lawsuit against President Donald Trump from TikTok is here — sort of.
While the company itself holds off on its threatened legal action responding to Trump's recent executive order seeking to ban the company from the US beginning in September, TikTok employees are threatening a lawsuit designed to lodge an injunction ensuring employees continue to get paid.
The man behind the prospective legal action, the TikTok technical program manager Patrick Ryan, has chipped in $5,000 of his own cash as part of a $30,000 crowdfunding attempt to support the lawsuit.
Ryan launched a GoFundMe page on Wednesday, which has so far seen 29 other donors contribute $4,073 toward the effort to ensure TikTok continues to pay its 1,500 US employees.
He believes that Trump's executive order, which would make it illegal for any US entity to conduct business with TikTok next month if a deal is not done to sell the company's US operations to a US firm, would be unconstitutional.
"That means after September 20, myself and 1,500 of my colleagues won't be able to receive a paycheck because it'll be illegal for the company to pay us," Ryan said in a video he posted to TikTok.
"The fear is that we will not be able to receive our paychecks after September 20," he told Business Insider. "I'm concerned my constitutional rights are being violated here. I don't mean to sound overly lawyerly, but due process is a concept, and this is one example where that's really violated."
"There's been no due process here," he added. "There's been no procedural process that would lead any employee who works at TikTok now to conclude this type of thing would even be possible."
Ryan said he wasn't sure why Trump had decided to introduce the executive order.
"I'm not being facetious," he said. "This is in fact the point of a decision made without due process. People are like: 'What is it?'"
Ryan says he has support from numerous employees concerned about their future with the company — and their future income — but the processes involved in constitutional-rights lawsuits mean it requires just one person to be the plaintiff.
Ryan, who joined TikTok's California office in March after more than nine years at Google, says he informed TikTok about his plan to take legal action and the company neither supported nor stopped him. (He didn't expect the company to support him, he said, because it's a personal-rights matter.)
Ryan will be represented by Mike Godwin, a Washington, DC-based civil-liberties lawyer who is a member of the board of trustees of the Internet Society.
"It can't be the case that President Trump wants to destroy a social-media platform just because it makes fun of him, but then apparently that's what happens," Godwin told Business Insider, citing the comedian Sarah Cooper's popular TikTok videos mocking the US president.
"Once you see something that looks so bizarre happening, you feel that you have to find a way to be helpful," he said.
Godwin foresees filing the lawsuit on behalf of Ryan whether or not the GoFundMe reaches its $30,000 target. "Sometime by the end of next week we'll have a lawsuit filed," he said.
"We don't want to let this dispute mature. We think it's an emergency and needs to be pursued now. We want to draw attention to the fact that this is the White House trying to destroy the jobs of 1,500 workers."
TikTok declined to comment.
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