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A lawyer representing hundreds of laid-off Twitter staff has accused Elon Musk of trying to ‘fleece’ workers over severance pay

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Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition in Washington, on March 9, 2020.

Susan Walsh/AP Photo

  • A lawyer fighting Twitter said Elon Musk tried to “fleece” ex-workers with his offers of severance pay.
  • Twitter had said they’d get two months’ salary, while Musk said they’d get three. They were offered one.
  • Lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan said she’d heard from “hundreds” of ex-employees unhappy with the offer.

A lawyer representing former Twitter employees has accused owner Elon Musk of trying to “fleece” the company’s former workers with his offers of severance pay.

Just a week after Musk took control, the social-media giant laid off thousands of workers on November 4. Hundreds of these workers finally got their separation contracts on Saturday, but were disappointed with the one month in severance pay they were offered in exchange for agreeing not to participate in lawsuits against Twitter or speak publicly about the company.

The arrival of the contracts, two months after many of these employees were laid off, left them with a choice: Sign the agreement or join the litigation against Musk.

Lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan said on Monday that she had heard from “hundreds” of ex-employees who weren’t happy with the severance pay on offer. Liss-Riordan said she had filed 100 more demands for arbitration on Monday morning. In total, Liss-Riordan says she has now filed around 300 demands for arbitration relating to Twitter layoffs.

“Now that the severance agreements have been sent to employees, Elon Musk has proven us correct: Twitter is in fact trying to shortchange employees and break promises,” Liss-Riordan said in a statement, adding that Twitter employees had been “promised much more” in severance.

This allegation has already been detailed in one of the four class-action lawsuits Liss-Riordan filed against the company in late 2022 on behalf of former Twitter employees.

The lawsuits alleged that Twitter employees were repeatedly told that if they were laid off following Musk’s acquisition of the company, their severance and benefits would be at least as favorable as those previously offered.

In a Twitter FAQs about the acquisition attached to the lawsuit, the company had said that laid-off staff would generally receive two months’ base salary, a pro-rated performance bonus plan compensation at target, the cash value of equity that would have vested within three months of the separation date, and a cash contribution for healthcare continuation.

Musk himself had previously said that people who left the company would be given three months of severance. This appeared to include the two months of “non-working employment” workers were paid for while they waited for their severance agreements, which was necessitated under some state laws.

The former workers told Insider’s Kali Hays that they were disappointed by the severance ultimately offered by Musk. “Imagine waiting so long and then getting this,” one said.

“Musk’s decision to fleece Twitter workers isn’t just shameful – it’s also going to be very costly,” Liss-Riordan added. “These claims will be extraordinarily expensive and time consuming for Twitter to defend.”

The class-action lawsuits also cover some workers affected by Musk’s “hardcore” Twitter ultimatum, with Liss-Riordan accusing the company of pushing disabled employees to leave because they didn’t feel they could meet the new performance standards. The lawsuits have additionally accused the company of targeting female workers with layoffs and of laying off staff on parental or medical leave in violation of federal law.

Musk, the world’s second-richest person, bought Twitter for $44 billion in October. Its workforce has fallen by roughly three-quarters since then.

“I think he can afford to make sure the employees he took on get what they were promised,” Liss-Riordan said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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