Fired Twitter workers remain in severance limbo

The employees of Twitter Inc. who were fired shortly after Elon Musk took office they are still awaiting the details of their severance packages months after they were laid off, creating more legal trouble for the new owner.

Musk fired roughly 50% of Twitter’s more than 7,000 employees on November 4, just a week after taking control of the company. Nearly 1,000 of those laid off lived in California, according to documents filed with the state. Under state and federal law, those workers were required to continue receiving regular paychecks for the past two months.

But that 60-day period ended on Wednesday, the official termination date for California employees. Employees have yet to hear any details about additional severance or continuation health coverage, known as COBRA, according to three laid-off workers.

Musk tweeted at the time that they were all “offered 3 months severance.”

Since acquiring the social media platform for US$44,000 millionthe billionaire has strived to cut costs, warning that the company could be bankrupt. Earlier this week, it removed other employee benefits, including travel benefits and meal allowances, according to Platformer.

Twitter is facing multiple lawsuits over unpaid bills, including for private charter plane flights, software services and rent at one of its San Francisco offices.

Attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan said hundreds of Twitter workers she represents have already had their last day at the company and have not received notice of termination or pay.

“No one has received severance pay,” Liss-Riordan said. The Boston-based employment lawyer has filed private arbitration cases and several federal class action lawsuits and US labor board complaints related to the mass layoffs, alleging a combination of retaliation, discrimination, and failure to notice and required pay. She said 100 arbitration claims were filed Thursday, in addition to the 100 already pending.

“We don’t know what Elon Musk is doing; we were hoping those separation agreements would have been sent by now, because a lot of people had their last official day,” Liss-Riordan said. “We wonder what he plans to do, but in the meantime we are moving forward with our legal actions.”

Twitter has asked the San Francisco judge overseeing the dismissal lawsuit to throw it out or, alternatively, move it to Delaware, where Twitter has bedding other cases, including the fight over his purchase of the company. As long as the lawsuit remains intact, wherever it ultimately lands, Twitter argues that its former employees are bound by contractual agreements that require them to resolve any dispute with the company in closed-door arbitration rather than in open court.

The employees who were laid off in New York, where Twitter also has a large office, have a 90-day window in which the company must continue to pay them, in accordance with state labor laws.

At the time of the layoffs, some of the Twitter employees were pregnant or had other medical problems, complicating the fact that they are unclear about insurance coverage.

“You have a choice to make here: Do you really want to get into this protracted, expensive legal battle that is going to be very, very, very expensive for Twitter, or do you want to do the right thing and just settle it now?” Liss-Riordan said.

A message sent to Twitter’s press email was not immediately returned. Twitter no longer has a public relations team.

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