A job applicant who claimed he was not offered a job at TikTok because he is aged in his forties has lost his discrimination claim over allegedly being asked how he would handle “working with a team leader in his twenties”.
The Workplace Relations Commission found his claim to have “no basis in fact” – and noted the company’s evidence that the company had not even recruited his potential future boss at the time he was interviewing.
The Workplace Relations Commission has rejected Hatem Mohamed’s complaint under the Employment Equality Act 1998 against the social media company’s Irish arm, TikTok Technology Limited in a decision published this morning.
The company’s legal team had maintained there was “not one iota” of discrimination in the hiring process.
The complainant, Mr Mohamed, 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 twenties “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”.
Mr Mohamed 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”.
Emma Davey, BL, who appeared for TikTok instructed by Halyley Maher of DLA Piper, submitted interview notes which she told the tribunal contained “no reference to any question about reporting to younger team leaders”.
She put it to the complainant in cross-examination that he 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.
Mr Mohamed there was “no problem with TikTok” and that his only problem was “with the interviewer”.
The interviewer, Sohail Khan, lead manager for TikTok’s ad service team in Dublin, said the requirement to build a diverse workfoce was “one of the company’s core values” and “very strictly followed”.
Mr Khan said Mr Mohamed 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 twenties.
“A question like that doesn’t bring any value to the job,” he told the tribunal, adding that he had not appointed the team leader who would have supervised Mr Mohamed if he had been successful.
WRC adjudicating officer Catherine Byrne wrote that Mr Mohamed’s claim about a remark on being managed by a team member in his twenties “has no basis in fact” and that she was satisfied that the statement “was not made”.
She 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 thirties and forties.
She said Mr Mohamed had failed to shift the “burden of proving the absence of discrimination” to Tiktok and found that his complaint was “not upheld”.
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