Following the ByteDance lawsuit, Patrick Ryan, a technical program manager at TikTok, filed a second lawsuit "on behalf of TikTok employees" against the Trump administration in an attempt to block the enforcement of the president's executive order banning transactions between the US-based TikTok office and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, arguing that the order could “unlawfully” prevent the social media firm’s US-based employees from receiving their salaries.
Ryan, a former lawyer who joined TikTok earlier this year, claimed in his lawsuit, filed in the federal court for the Northern District of California, that the implementation of Trump’s executive order (EO) violates the constitutional rights of some 1,500 US employees working for TikTok and ByteDance, as it might put them at the risk of losing their wages and salaries.
We just filed a lawsuit against President Trump on behalf of TikTok employees. Another day (not) in the office. . . .— Alexander Urbelis (@aurbelis) August 24, 2020
Quite proud to fight for the wages and salaries of these US employees, for due process, and the rule of law. @sfmnemonic pic.twitter.com/uHRUcIAg1Q
Alexander Urbelis, a partner with the Blackstone Law Group, the firm filing the lawsuit on behalf of Ryan, explained that the complaint seeks to block the Trump administration from extending the effect of the EO on the the paychecks of US-based TikTok employees.
“We made a lot of similar arguments and claims,” Urbelis said, quoted by The Hill. “From our perspective, this is about protecting the wages and salaries of families and employees”.
Ryan’s lawsuit asserts that the TikTok workforce in the US is being exploited as “pawns in a political spitting match between China and Trump, who has decided to make 'Tough on China' a central theme of his embattled re-election campaign.”
“The 1,500 TikTok employees working in the US – as well as their families – need to know whether they will be paid next month,” the filing stated, according to the outlet.
Ryan launched a GoFundMe campaign on 11 August to raise money for the legal challenge against Trump and his appointed Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross. Ryan has currently raised over $14,500 toward the projected $30,000 goal.
Earlier in the day, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance Ltd., announced that it had filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration challenging the restrictive EO banning transactions between the video-sharing app and the Beijing-based tech company.
Trump has claimed that the widely popular social-media app, downloaded over 2 billion times worldwide as of 2020, including over 100 million in the United States alone, harvests data for the Chinese government. The US president threatened to ban TikTok and WeChat by a 15 September deadline if they have not been sold to a US company.
ByteDance and Beijing have refuted Trump’s claims, arguing that the president's move is merely political, part of an ongoing trade war that Trump initiated and not based on legitimate national security concerns.
Following the filling of the lawsuit by TikTok against Trump's restrictive EO, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Monday that Beijing supports Chinese companies' use of legal weapons to defend legal rights.
“China continues to support relevant companies to take up legal weapons to defend their rightful interests and will continue to take all necessary measures to defend the legal rights of Chinese companies,” Zhao said at a briefing in Beijing.
ByteDance is reportedly in talks with Microsoft and Oracle on a possible sale of TikTok operations in the US. Microsoft is said to be the main bidder. Twitter has reportedly also been in contact with the Chinese app developer.