Elon Musk's X is finally attempting to settle a lawsuit brought by ex-Twitter employees over allegedly unreceived severance pay when the billionaire fired nearly two-thirds of the company late last year.
Musk announced his arrival as Twitter's head honcho in 2022 by instigating one of the most dramatic rounds of tech company layoffs seen to that point, slashing the firm's workforce from 8,000 to 2,000 staffers. Now, following the social network's rebirth as X, it could be ready to pony up to those who claim to have been cheated by the process.
According to a new memo, lawyers have succeeded in getting Twitter to the negotiating table, some 10 months after Musk's layoffs began in November 2022. At the time, Musk said there was no alternative to the mass firings, as the company was losing $4 million a day. The South African billionaire promised affected employees three months of severance pay, something the 2,000 former Twitter employees filing suit say they never received.
Musk Could Settle Twitter Lawsuit in December
Bloomberg News reports that a memo from lawyers representing the ex-Twitter employees reveals that Elon Musk and X are ready to settle at last. The note was apparently shared with the outlet one of the former staff taking part in the lawsuit.
“After 10 months of pressing them in every direction we have succeeded in getting Twitter to the table. Twitter wants to mediate with us in a global attempt to settle all claims we have filed,” attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan is quoted by Bloomberg as writing.
The article adds that private mediation talks will take place on December 1 and 2 this year, at which point a settlement figure could be agreed. If that happens, it would mark the end of a particularly long and complicated layoff saga for Musk, X, and the ex-Twitter employees.
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A Brief History of the Twitter Layoffs Lawsuit
The trouble started when Musk took over Twitter last October, after which the firings began and approximately 6,000 staff lost their jobs. Musk said Twitter would be paying out three months of severance pay, but the initial lawsuit filed in November 2022 notes that California's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) laws require employees be given 60 days' advance notice of large-scale layoffs. Some of these plaintiffs say they weren't paid the severance at all.
Fast forward to January 2023 and Twitter was granted a motion to force ex-staff into arbitration who hadn't opted out of it in their contracts with their company. This created a further issue, as Musk and Twitter refused to pay for the arbitration, despite insisting on it and the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services requiring employers to foot the bill when that's the case.
By summer 2023, Liss-Riordan had therefore filed an additional lawsuit against Twitter for refusing to pay for and move forward with 891 arbitrations, having also taken on representation of the ex-Twitter staff forced into these proceedings. Additionally, the lawsuits now included further allegations that Twitter's layoffs discriminated “against employees on the basis of sex, race, age and disability” and that it had failed to pay out promised bonuses.
Will the Real Elon Musk Please Stand Up?
In the court of public opinion, Musk has hardly helped himself throughout the process. Among other things, he has told Twitter staff to work longer hours or quit, and specifically fired staff responsible for policing hate speech on the platform.
At around the same time as he started the mass firings in late-2022, he also killed Twitter's remote working policy, which was once a progressive calling card for the social media company. This was slightly ahead of 2023's larger trend of companies ending remote work, though you can still find plenty of great remote working jobs right now if that's what you're looking for.
The Elon Musk narrative took a further twist with the publication of a new biography about the tech magnate this week, which attempted to paint a more nuanced portrait of the Tesla and X Corp supremo: one who likes to publicly throw shade at Bill Gates, whilst privately revealing his softer side over a relaxing game of Dungeons and Dragons. As you were, haters…