U.S.-based TikTok employees should still get paid if President Donald Trump's executive order to ban "transactions" with the company goes into effect next week, the Justice Department said in a court filing on Monday.
The concession is in response to a lawsuit filed last month by TikTok technical program manager Patrick S. Ryan in the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of California accusing Trump of violating his constitutional rights and defaming and disgracing U.S.-based TikTok Inc. employees by painting them as working for the Chinese Communist Party.
The filling came the same day Oracle confirmed that TikTok's parent company ByteDance Ltd has chosen the Bay Area software giant as its "trusted technology provider." Trump has pushed for TikTok's sale to a U.S. company, favoring Oracle Corp.
TikTok found itself in the Trump administration's line of fire over concerns that China-based ByteDance is sharing the popular app's data with the Communist government. On August 6, Trump issued an executive order giving the app 45 days before "transactions" with the platform are banned. But it offered no explanation as to what those transactions include.
"The government conceded at the eleventh hour because they knew they were going to lose," said Alexander Urbelis, a partner at Blackstone Law Group LLP, which represents Ryan. "We think that the government may have conceded all of our asks because they did not want to risk the court addressing the broader issue of whether Trump's executive order is unconstitutional."
Justice Department lawyers said the administration "does not intend to implement or enforce" the executive order in a way that would prohibit paying wages, salaries or benefits to TikTok employees or contractors. So, there is no need to hit pause on Trump's ban.
But, they made no assurances that Trump's order won't have an impact on employees should ByteDance and TikTok decide to restructure or change employee payments as a result. Blackstone Law Group's lead attorney John D. Lovi said in a letter to the Justice Department Monday that the government still hasn't addressed concerns that Trump's order harms the reputation of U.S.-based TikTok employees, nor has it addressed the holdup on H-1B visas because of the order.
A representative for the Justice Department did not immediately reply to a request for comment. A court clerk on Monday called off a hearing on the case set to hear the request to pause the ban on Tuesday morning.
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