Internet, meet Lexi Larson, a 25-year-old senior account manager in Denver, Colorado who took to TikTok to share exciting news — she'd recently started a job in the tech industry and her yearly salary saw a $40,000 boost.
Though commenters praised Lexi's openness about career change, salary negotiations, and life in the tech industry, she says it was those now-deleted videos that led to her being fired.
"So, TikTok got me fired," Lexi explained in the since-deleted video that had garnered over a million views. "A couple of weeks ago, I started sharing about how I got a job in the tech industry. Well, I don't work at that job anymore because they fired me."
Note: Lexi says she has since removed videos about her termination due to online harassment.
"I had to sign a bunch of stuff, so I'm, like, really nervous about going too far into detail here. But basically, my employer found my TikToks and really, really did not like that I was sharing my salary and stuff like that," she said.
"Even though I'm very aware that talking about salary is federally protected — you can't get fired for that — I did take all of those videos down just because, you know, they were my employer and I didn't want them to be mad at me or not like me or something."
"But then, like two days later, after they talked to me about my TikTok account, they ended up firing me because they said me having this account was a security concern because I could post something private about the company on my TikTok account," she said.
"And I did specifically ask, like, 'Have I broken any policies? Have I posted anything on TikTok that is a security concern?' And they said not at this time, I have not, but it could happen at any time in the future, so they're just not going to take that risk with me."
Though it's not uncommon for employees to find themselves discouraged from speaking openly about their salary, the US's National Labor Relations Act secures citizens' right to do so. According to the National Labor Relations Board, "Employees have the right to communicate with other employees at their workplace about their wages. ... When using electronic communications, like social media, keep in mind that your employer may have policies against using their equipment. However, policies that specifically prohibit the discussion of wages are unlawful."
Knowing this, some viewers prompted Lexi to seek legal advice...
...while others balked at the company's alleged actions, saying, "they were worried you'd air them out...and now that they unfairly fired you, you are!"
To learn more about the situation, I reached out to Lexi, who said she was taken by surprise that morning, when "I came into the office and joined a morning meeting, and then after that meeting, my manager asked me to come into a conference room," she told BuzzFeed. "They had HR and the VP on Zoom, and the VP told me they were letting me go because my social media was a 'security concern.' I was completely taken aback. There had been no discussion prior to this, so it was completely out of the blue."
This meeting took place in mid-June.
After being fired, Lexi recalled driving home and "crying for, like, days straight." Eventually, she called her previous manager and, due to their good working relationship, Lexi said he helped her get her job back. However, it's important to note, "The pay is much lower," Lexi told BuzzFeed.
Lexi started working with the company again on July 18.
Despite the events that transpired, Lexi still believes in the importance of pay transparency. "Salary transparency is the way of the future," she said. "It's a growing trend among millennials and Gen Z, and I believe our generation is committed to ending the wage gap."
"Salary transparency is one of the main ways we can do that. Discussing pay is the only way women and people of color can learn if they are being underpaid. I believe companies that push back against salary transparency are pushing back against positive change, and they will be remembered as being on the wrong side of history."
When considering steps companies should take to be more transparent about pay and help assuage wage gaps, Lexi said: "Many industries have job levels with corresponding salaries that are publicly available. This would be a really simple way to make sure everyone is being paid fairly based on their experience, skill, and education levels."
"Currently, many companies keep salary information private, which can lead to people with similar backgrounds being paid vastly different rates for the same work," she concluded.