Twitter is being sued for failing to notify employees of a mass layoff that began in earnest Friday morning. The lawsuit alleges that Twitter violated worker protection laws, including the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act as well as California’s WARN law, both of which require 60 days notice.
The lawsuit was filed on Thursday as news spread that the company – now owned and run by Elon Musk – would begin mass layoffs early Friday in a bid to cut costs by cutting 3,700 jobs, or 50% of its workforce. total.
Bloomberg first broke news of the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
The complaint alleges that Twitter began its layoffs on November 1, when it terminated the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Emmanuel Cornet, without providing proper written notice in violation of US and California laws. Other plaintiffs, Justine De Caires, Jessica Pan and Grae Kindel said they were fired on November 3 due to having their accounts locked. The lawsuit added that the California Department of Employment Development did not receive notice of the mass layoffs that began Friday.
The lawsuit reminds the court that Musk has previously fired employees without notice. Tesla, of which Musk is CEO and largest shareholder, was sued by former employees after a massive layoff in June 2022. In that case, Musk ordered Tesla executives to halt all hiring and prepare for layoffs jobs. Employees were never notified in advance and hundreds were fired a few weeks later.
Lawyers representing two Tesla workers initially filed an emergency injunction asking a judge to bar the electric vehicle maker from forcing workers to sign waivers in exchange for less compensation than federal law provides.
A lawsuit was later filed on behalf of those same employees alleging that the company failed to provide the 60 days notice required by federal law during a recent round of layoffs. A federal judge later ruled that Tesla must notify the workers of the proposed class action because the termination agreements they signed may have been misleading and caused them to waive their rights under federal law. Musk had called this lawsuit “trivial” when commenting on the lawsuit at the Qatar Economic Forum organized by Bloomberg.
In the new lawsuit against Twitter, plaintiffs ask the court to declare that Twitter violated federal and California WARN laws and to certify the case as a class action. Similar to Tesla’s dismissal lawsuit, the lawyers are also asking the court to bar Twitter from forcing terminated employees to sign documents that would release their claims without telling them about this lawsuit. The lawsuit seeks a range of remedies, including compensatory damages (including wages owed), as well as declaratory judgment, pre- and post-judgment interest, and other attorneys’ fees and costs.
Under the terms of Twitter’s buyout agreement, Musk had agreed to maintain employee compensation and benefits. This means that the terminated employees should receive 60 days of salary and the cash value of the shares they were due to receive within three months of their last appointment with the company, according to the law.
“Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, has made it clear that he believes complying with federal labor laws is ‘meaningless’. We filed this federal lawsuit to ensure Twitter is held accountable for our laws and to prevent Twitter employees from unknowingly waiving their rights,” Shannon Liss-Riordan, one of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit, said in an email sent to Tech Crunch.
“Employees have to be very careful when signing anything offered to them. We are prepared to file claims on behalf of Twitter employees who are terminated without notice or compensation. We are also investigating whether Twitter attempted to evade its obligations to pay the stock options it owes employees by laying them off now,” she added.
Twitter did not respond to requests for comment, likely because its communications staff were included in the layoffs.
The company’s dismissal process was chaotic and conducted in a cold manner. Instead of being notified personally, Twitter employees were told they would receive an email with an update on their employment status by Friday 9:00 a.m. PT. If they still had a job, the email would arrive in their work inbox. Otherwise, they would receive a personal email because access to internal systems was cut off.
A number of Twitter employees around the world have already tweeted that they have been fired and are sharing their sympathies with fellow “tweeps”. Twitter also temporarily closed its offices as layoffs were underway by disabling badge access.
The transition has been confusing for Twitter staff. It was reported that Twitter’s new owner did not formally communicate with employees after the deal closed on Oct. 27, leading staff to learn of events by following Musk’s tweets, per the through private chats, on the workplace gossip site Blind, and by reading media reports. Immediately after the takeover, Musk fired CEO Parag Agrawal, chief financial officer Ned Segal, general counsel Sean Edgett and head of legal, trust and safety policy Vijaya Gadde.
Other top executives, like chief consumer officer Sarah Personette and chief human resources and diversity officer Dalana Brand, tendered their resignations the next day. General manager of core technologies Nick Caldwell, chief marketing officer Leslie Berland, Twitter product manager Jay Sullivan and its vice president of global sales, Jean-Philippe Maheu, also departed.
The company has canceled its upcoming developer conference, Chirp, and it looks like the head of its Twitter developer platform, Amir Shevat, is also absent, as he tweeted he is “better outside than inside” and thanked the developer community for the incredible journey they have made.
In addition to cutting staff numbers, Musk has also been revamping Twitter’s product at a rapid pace.
Earlier this week, it announced plans to roll out a new version of the Twitter Blue paid subscription, which will cost $8 a month and give users the verification tick, fewer ads, and the ability to post videos. longer. According to a report by The Platformer, Twitter also plans to shut down its long-running Notes writing product and its Revue newsletter product, which were acquired in 2021. The tweets indicate that Personal which operated on Twitter Communities were also fired, suggesting that the product could also be shut down.
The new legal complaint is embedded below.
Twitter Class Action for Mass Layoffs by TechCrunch on Scribd