TikTok Employee Asks Court to Immediately Stop Trump Order

Tiktok App -Getty -2- H 2020
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

As TikTok continues to meet prospective buyers in the wake of President Donald Trump's executive order to ban the social video app after 90 days, one of the company's employees is pushing a judge to reach a preliminary conclusion about the legality of the order. On Thursday night, Patrick Ryan filed a motion for an injunction to stop the Department of Commerce from enforcing Trump's Aug. 6 order to the extent it prohibits TikTok from paying wages and salaries to its U.S. employees.

Ryan, a technical program manager in TikTok's Mountain View, Calif. office, filed his lawsuit in federal court back on Aug. 24, the same day that TikTok itself sued the Trump Administration. Although TikTok also demands injunctive relief, the ByteDance-owned company has yet to file the paperwork that would have a judge making an early determination about the likelihood of prevailing on the legal claims and any irreparable harm. Ryan, represented by attorneys at Blackstone Law Group, has now made that next step, although it'll be up to U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria to set the exact schedule for further briefing.

The injunction motion (read here) raises issue with how Trump's order prohibits any "transaction" between those subject to U.S. jurisdiction and ByteDance. The broad and ambiguous ban could interfere with TikTok employees being paid.

Ryan also lays out how Trump's order emanates from anti-China political animus as well as how its young users have attempted to organize against his re-election.

The motion lays out the legal claims such:

"President Trump’s August 6 Executive Order is an unlawful and unconstitutional abuse of executive power that violates the Due Process rights of TikTok employees guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in that it (1) deprives Plaintiff of his constitutionally recognized 'property' interest in his job and salary without notice or an opportunity to be heard; (2) deprives Plaintiff of his constitutionally recognized 'liberty' interest in pursuing his employment of choice; (3) discriminates against Plaintiff based solely on his employment affiliation with a so-called 'Chinese' company, although U.S. employees of other social media companies doing the exact same work are not; and (4) is constitutionally vague regarding what acts or actions constitute a 'conspiracy' to engage in prohibited 'transactions' with TikTok. Moreover, the Executive Order exceeds the President’s authority and is therefore ultra vires and void ab initio. In addition, the Complaint in this case asserts other claims under the Administrative Procedures Act ('APA') and the All Writs Act, as well as the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, that may not be ripe at the time of this filing but will likely become so during the pendency of this motion."

Although given the opportunity to review the legality of Trump's Aug. 6 order broadly, Judge Chhabria could decide the injunction motion on narrow grounds, leaving the larger ban in place while ensuring TikTok's employees are paid. Regardless, it's now on track to be the first judicial look at the order.