The chaotic $44 billion takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk has seen legal pushback from former employees claiming their sacking was ‘unlawful, unfair and completely unacceptable’.
A letter from UK law firm Winckworth Sherwood has said Twitter used a “fake redundancy procedure”, leading to the allegedly unlawful treatment of the former employees.
And in the US, former employees of the company scored a win when the judge orders those laid off to be informed of a pending lawsuit, which better protects workers prior to signing any severance package from the company.
Thousands of employees were terminated by Musk, accusing the CEO of failing to adhere to undertakings about permitting remote work and proper severance benefits.
A potential class action lawsuit from the former employees in the US, and possibly elsewhere, remains a likelihood.
Shannon Liss-Riordan, the attorney bringing the suit against Twitter on behalf of the former employees, said in a statement regarding the recent US court order that the order is a “basic but important step that will provide employees with the opportunity to more fully understand their rights instead of just signing them away, and potentially signing away money they are owed, under pressure from Musk.”
In the UK, several dozen former employees of the social media company are claiming the buyout violated their employment severance conditions. Winckworth Sherwood are representing 43 of about 180 fired employees of the company, according to The Guardian.
Musk purchased Twitter in a $44 billion deal and proceeded to lay off about 50 per cent of its 7,500 worldwide employees.
According to Winckworth, UK Twitter employees did not receive the severance terms they had agreed before Musk took over and received two months’ worth of gross basic pay in addition to an extra two weeks’ worth of gross basic salary for each year of service.
The firm also claimed that Twitter dismissed employees in violation of the UK, which would have required a 45 day consultancy period, denying them access to computers and offices the day the cutbacks were announced, and that cuts were made before attempting to implement a proper redundancy programme.
An additional possible violation of the law, according to Winckworth, is Twitter’s failure to develop fair selection criteria for redundancy.
“We consider that an employment tribunal will take an extremely dim view of the company‘s failings to date, not least having regard to its size, resources and access to legal advice,” said lawyers at Winckworth Sherwood in the letter.
At least 200 arbitration requests for legal grievances have already been made against Twitter in the US. Four class action lawsuits have also been filed by employees who were terminated in the US.
The legal challenges Musk faces from both sides of the Atlantic come as he has to help turn around the companies financials urgently given Twitter’s $3 billion negative cash flow annually.