Twitter sued for mass layoffs by Musk without enough notice

Twitter was sued over Elon Musk's plan to eliminate about 3,700 jobs at the social-media platform, which workers say the company is doing without enough notice in violation of federal and California law.

A class-action lawsuit was filed on Thursday (Nov 3) in San Francisco federal court.

Twitter intends to start cutting staff on Friday (Nov 4), the company said in an email to employees worldwide. Musk plans to get rid of half the workforce, making good on plans to slash costs at the platform he acquired for US$44 billion last month, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

The Business Times has reached out to Twitter's Singapore office, which houses the company's Asia-Pacific headquarters in the city's central business district. In April, Twitter opened a 22,000 square feet expansion to its existing office space at CapitaGreen, where it has an engineering hub.

The Singapore engineering centre, launched in 2020, was expected to hire 65 staff. In January 2022, Twitter said that it would double the number of engineers to over 100 staff by 2023, with new hires in engineering, data science, machine learning and product management. The Singapore centre is led by Silvanus Lee, co-founder of artificial intelligence startup BasisAI, which was acquired by a Temasek company last year.

According to the Singapore Ministry of Manpower (MOM) website, Singapore-registered employers with at least 10 employees are required to notify MOM of a retrenchment exercise, within five working days after affected employees are notified of their retrenchment.

In the US, the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act restricts large companies from mounting mass layoffs without at least 60 days of advance notice.

Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawsuit asks the court to issue an order requiring Twitter to obey the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, and restricting the company from soliciting employees to sign documents that could give up their right to participate in litigation.

"We filed this lawsuit tonight in an attempt the make sure that employees are aware that they should not sign away their rights and that they have an avenue for pursuing their rights," Shannon Liss-Riordan, the attorney who filed Thursday's complaint, said in an interview.

Liss-Riordan sued Tesla over similar claims in June when the electric-car maker headed by Musk laid off about 10 per cent of its workforce. 

Tesla won a ruling from a federal judge in Austin forcing the workers in that case to pursue their claims in closed-door arbitration instead of in open court.

Musk described the Tesla lawsuit as "trivial" during a discussion with Bloomberg editor-In-chief John Micklethwait at the Qatar Economic Forum in June.

"We will now see if he is going to continue to thumb his nose at the laws of this country that protect employees," Liss-Riordan said of Musk. "It appears that he's repeating the same playbook of what he did at Tesla." BLOOMBERG



BT is now on Telegram!

For daily updates on weekdays and specially selected content for the weekend. Subscribe to