As more and more workers are affected by the layoffs that are occurring across industries, numerous users have used TikTok to share their stories of both being laid off and post-layoff life.
Now, another user went viral and sparked discussion after sharing their story. In a video with over 379,000 views, TikTok user Kiki (@kikirough) says she was laid off from her job—then contacted by her former CEO to do contract work.
“My CEO reaches out to me, and he says, ‘Hey, I need something done that no one knows how to do,’” Kiki explains. “I was like, ‘Sure, these are all the things that need to be done, but I’ll lose my unemployment if I do this for you. Can you at least give me a week’s pay?’”
In response, the CEO “essentially says, ‘You’re not worth the week’s pay. You can do it for me hourly.’ He doesn’t care if I lose my unemployment,” she says.
“The only reason I don’t feel bad about professionally sharing this is because this is exploitation,” she says. “If he can’t afford to give me severance—or notice—then I can’t afford to do things at the expense of myself anymore.”
@kikirough ✨ treat your employees like human beings ✨ #greenscreen #work #job #QuakerPregrain #greenscreenvideo #fyp ♬ Flowers – Miley Cyrus
In the comments section, users were supportive of Kiki, with many saying that she should have charged more if she was truly needed for the job.
“Consultation rate is at least 3 times of an actual employee,” a user wrote.
“My new rate is $500 an hour,” another offered.
“Oh no. Don’t do it for a weeks pay. Start an LLC and charge him third party contractor rates!” a third detailed. “They absolutely do not deserve freebies.”
Others simply advised Kiki to not take the work, no matter whether the former employers pays up.
“DO. NOT. DO. IT! They fired you. Decline, block and move on,” a commenter stated. “You don’t owe them at all.”
“Should have replied with a meme about the consequences of their own actions. And then never replied again,” a second claimed.
This appears to be the route Kiki took. In a series of follow-up videos, she claims that she decided to not take the offer regardless of whether the boss decided to pay out her requested wage.
@kikirough Replying to @ctguy123 ♬ original sound – Kiki
@kikirough Replying to @himbojuice ♬ original sound – Kiki
In these videos, she thanked her followers for their support throughout this journey. She also claims that she received a response from her former boss while live-streaming, leading to several users helping her craft her response.
“I declined the offer, I blocked his email, and boundaries are amazing!” she exclaims. “I did not value myself as much as this before today. Thank you.”
She also reveals that she is currently interviewing for a job that she is excited about and that her references from her previous job supported her for standing up for herself.
For all her curious followers, Kiki eventually posted the email she sent her former employer.
@kikirough Replying to @priscilachavez51 #greenscreen ♬ Flowers – Miley Cyrus
“After further consideration, I feel severely undervalued with this offer,” the email reads. “Bargaining for a week’s pay was insulting and I will not be undervalued.”
“It’s unfortunate there was no foresight for this upcoming need before you laid me off,” the email continues. “I will be discontinuing communication from this point moving forward. Good luck with any future endeavors.”
Users on TikTok remained supportive of Kiki.
“Great response. You being unique to whatever report or skill that was still needed should have saved your job. The foresight comment was perfect!” a second echoed.
We’ve reached out to Kiki via Instagram direct message.
Update 10:03am CT, Feb. 4, 2023: In an Instagram direct message exchange with the Daily Dot, Kiki elaborated on the points made in her videos and where she stands today.
“I have had a handful of interviews since leaving. This job was helpful because it expanded my skill set immensely, but the people who invested in me were let go alongside of me when the company closed,” she wrote. “Everyone has been unwaveringly supportive which has helped me stand firm; I get super overwhelmed with attention, and this blew up further and quicker than I anticipated. Honestly, my hope was just to help a few people see that they need to work to live not live to work.”
She also responded to some of the feedback her videos have received.
“…It looks like the Facebook comments are coming back saying this isn’t exploitation because I could ask for an insane amount of money,” she detailed. “They wanted to pay me 2-3 days’ worth of what I used to make for a task that takes me longer than that. I’ve never been a consultant so I didn’t realize that I could bump up the rates, but…I asked for a week’s pay and was asked to reconsider — as if my value was no longer equivalent to what I was making a month ago.”
She then shared advice for workers in a similar situation.
“I’d say don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and know your worth,” she stated. “A lot of times you’re told the workplace is a family, and for me it was, but then the people I built strong relationships were laid off. I struggle setting boundaries and saying no. If I’ve learned anything from this, it’s that you need to hold firm when you’re not going to be given the respect and worth you deserve.”