A 24-year-old California tech employee who was fired after posting a TikTok with her company's meeting in the background says 'rejection is redirection'

Michelle Serna
Michelle Serna courtesy of Michelle SernaMichelle Serna
  • Michelle Serna said she was fired after human resources at her job discovered one of her TikTok videos.

  • In the since-deleted video, a company meeting could be heard in the background, HR said.

  • The company fired her for "gross negligence," according to Serna. "I have nothing left to do but accept it."

A California tech worker who said she was fired from her job in telemedicine after posting a TikTok video with a work meeting on in the background has pivoted to running her own software company and is on a mission to make oft-maligned "horse girls cool again."

"I didn't realize that my meeting was in the background until I got fired," Michelle Serna, 24, told Insider.

Serna, who posted about her experience in a viral TikTok video in September 2022, said she was fired from her job as a product lead at Visionable Global, a UK tech company focused on healthcare, after she posted a video on TikTok in which a meeting in the background.

Serna said she posted a since-deleted video on TikTok at 5 a.m. on August 1, 2022, showing her coffee maker pouring coffee all over the counter after she forgot to place a mug underneath it.

Her laptop was in the other room, but in the video, she said viewers could hear her 4:30 a.m. meeting in the background.

The next day, Serna said she got called into a meeting with human resources and her chief product officer. Someone from the company had reported her video, Serna said.

She told Insider she did not expect to be fired when she was called into the meeting by the HR representative.

"She was the person who originally hired me and we had a very, very close relationship and a very personal relationship," Serna said. "So, it was not unusual for her to just be like, 'Hey, do you have a second to chat?' So, I didn't freak out or anything."

@brokeasshorsegirl Yep. That happened. I got fired because of TikTok so now I’m starting a company and I’m going to take you along the way with me on TikTok. To the moon? #fired #siliconvalley #startup #horsegirl #storytime ♬ original sound - Michelle Serna

Human resources told Serna that she was immediately being dismissed from the company for making a personal social media video during work, not getting consent from her coworkers or the company for recording a confidential conversation, and breaching the company's trust in her as an employee.

Serna said what really hurt was seeing her former executive angry as he told her the company "lost complete trust" in her from the mistake.

"My chief product officer, I loved him. So, when he was so angry with me, I was so hurt because I really loved him. I loved working for him. I felt like I was learning a lot from him," Serna said.

Serna said she was instructed by HR to delete the video, which she said only had 2,500 views before it was removed.

"I cried for maybe five minutes, I think. But I mean, ultimately, I was just so shocked that something so minuscule would lead to them firing somebody who just got a raise a couple weeks prior," Serna said, adding that her performance at the company was never brought up as an issue.

"Nothing, never. Not even a single sentence," she said.

Visionable Global did not respond when reached for comment.

Serna, who had been at the company for eight months, said she was not upset for very long, owned up to her mistake, and wanted to move forward.

"I don't necessarily agree that they thought it was grounds for dismissal, but I'll own it. I made a mistake, and I should have been more careful," Serna said. "I was upset, but within a few minutes even, I kind of was like, 'Okay, what's next?'"


Serna said she launched her own company on the same day as her dismissal, and told viewers she planned to document every aspect of building the company on TikTok shortly after. In late October, Serna officially introduced followers to her all-in-one equine management tech company, Bridle.

Serna, who said she's been riding horses for 23 years and currently posts under the username @brokeasshorsegirl on social media, said she grew up heavily involved in rodeos and riding.

"Bridle was inspired by my experience growing up in the business, and my frustrations with the inefficiencies that exist in the industry," Serna wrote on LinkedIn.

"It just feels perfect timing, and I always knew that I wanted to start this company," Serna told Insider in 2022. "This company is something that I've talked about a lot, that even in COVID, was something that I previously worked on and tried to do and just wasn't able to accomplish it because I had a full-time position."

At the time, Serna was keeping a positive attitude.

"All I can say is that rejection is redirection, and when shitty things happen to you, maybe it's not getting fired from a job, but shit things happen, and things get derailed," Serna said. "If you consistently keep a mindset with, 'No matter what, I'm going to keep trudging forward,' I don't think that there's any option but success for you. It just might not be linear."

Despite the flak she received online, Serna told her over 300,000 followers that she wasn't concerned with the negative attention her firing — and transparency — caused online. These days, her TikTok is filled with barrel racing and trips to the stables.

"I can't be bothered. I have horse-girl things to do," she told viewers. "Say what you want about me, because you know what? While you're being miserable on the internet, I'm chilling with my horses — gang-gang."


Read the original article on Insider