Elon Musk Twitter in Legal Trouble Over Employee Layoffs

Elon Musk

Twitter Inc. is facing new legal ramifications from Elon Musk mass layoffs, including complaints from some employees that severance payments are less than promised and

from other employees that the company retaliated against them for exercising protected labor rights. The latest legal actions follow a class-action lawsuit filed in early November, accusing the company of failing to provide adequate notice to hundreds of employees facing termination.

A Los Angeles attorney announced that she had filed individual arbitration claims on behalf of three employees who claim the company has not committed to paying them the severance pay they were promised prior to Musk’s acquisition. Lisa Bloom, the employee’s lawyer, stated that she is prepared to file hundreds more such complaints on behalf of Twitter employees and contractors. Unlike lawsuits, which are filed and fought in public, arbitrations are conducted behind closed doors. The company was also named in two National Labor Relations Board complaints. In one labor board case, Twitter is accused of firing an employee in retaliation for an unsuccessful strike attempt with other workers.

According to the Dec. 1 complaint, the strike was scheduled for Nov. 17 but never took place because employees were discouraged by an email sent by Musk telling them they needed to commit to being “extremely hardcore” if they wanted to keep their jobs. Another employee filed a labor board complaint after being placed on administrative leave in retaliation for taking part in a lawsuit and suggesting to coworkers that they protest the company’s return-to-work policy. Twitter did not immediately respond to a comment request.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, an attorney, filed both of the labor board complaints. She also filed at least one other complaint with the agency last month and is leading the class action against Twitter in court. A hearing, in that case, is scheduled for Thursday in federal court in San Francisco. Bloom and the three former employees she represents announced the arbitration complaints at a press conference that was live-streamed on Twitter. They claimed that they were promised in May and October that their severance packages would be preserved despite Musk’s acquisition. According to the report, Twitter made the pledge to maintain workplace stability amid the turbulence of Musk’s on-again, off-again deal negotiations to take over the social media platform.

The former employees will be paid until January 4, according to Bloom. However, she claims there is a “complete lack of clarity” from Twitter about whether they will continue to receive that pay if they find a new job, and whether it is considered part of their severance package.

Bloom believes that firing some employees during their pregnancy or parental leave may violate civil rights laws. She claims she is attempting to enforce severance agreements under which Twitter employees were entitled to a prorated bonus and stock vesting up to three months after their last day at the company. “Bonuses and stock are a significant part of the compensation for Twitter employees, as they are for many other tech workers,” Bloom said. “That is what they are being denied. That’s what was promised to keep them safe during this trying time.” The lawyer also claimed that many Twitter employees were “tricked” into signing waivers that prevented them from filing or joining class actions in open court to enforce contracts and labor laws.

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