Employees Sue Elon Musk's Twitter After Staff Informed of Mass Layoffs

In a letter to employees obtained by NBC News, the company said employees would find out by 9 a.m. Pacific Standard Time if they had been laid off. The email did not say how many people would lose their jobs

NBC Universal, Inc.

A lawsuit was filed against Twitter on Thursday over Elon Musk's plan to eliminate hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs at the social media platform, which employees say violates federal and state law requiring 60 days notice of mass layoffs.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco names five current or former workers as plaintiffs, NBC News reports.

One of the plaintiffs was told he was terminated effective Tuesday and three others have been locked out of their Twitter accounts as of Thursday with no formal notice of a layoff, which they interpret to mean they will lose their jobs, according to the lawsuit.

"Twitter is now engaged in conducting mass layoffs without providing the required notice under the federal WARN Act," the lawsuit says, a reference to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act which requires 60-day notice for certain plant closings or mass layoffs.

In a letter to employees obtained by NBC News, the company said employees would find out by 9 a.m. PT if they had been laid off. The email did not say how many of the roughly 7,500 employees would lose their jobs.

Some employees of the San Francisco-based company tweeted earlier that they had already lost access to their work accounts. They and others tweeted messages of support using the hashtag #OneTeam. The email to staff said job reductions were “necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward.”

Twitter’s employees have been expecting layoffs since Musk took the helm of the company. Already, he has fired top executives, including CEO Parag Agrawal, on his first day as Twitter’s owner.

Musk also had removed the company’s board of directors and installed himself as the sole board member. On Thursday night, many Twitter employees took to the platform to express support for each other -- often simply tweeting blue heart emojis to signify Twitter’s blue bird logo -- and salute emojis in replies to each other.

The Tesla CEO is now the owner of the social media company.

As of Friday, Musk and Twitter had given no public notice of the coming layoffs, according to a spokesperson for California’s Employment Development Department. That’s even though the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification statute requires employers with at least 100 workers to disclose layoffs involving 500 or more employees, regardless of whether a company is publicly traded or privately held.

The layoffs come at a tough time for social media companies, as advertisers are scaling back and newcomers -- mainly TikTok -- are threatening the older platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

In a tweet Friday while employees were learning if they’d lost their jobs, Musk blamed activists for what he described as a “massive drop in revenue” since he took over Twitter late last week. He did not say how much revenue had dropped.

Big companies including General Motors, General Mills and Audi have all paused ads on Twitter due to questions about how it will operate under Musk. Volkswagen Group said Friday it is recommending its brands, which include Skoda, Seat, Cupra, Audi, Lamborghini, Bentley, Porsche and Ducati, pause paid activities until Twitter issues revised brand safety guidelines.

Musk has tried to appease advertisers, but they remain concerned about whether content moderation will remain as stringent and whether staying on Twitter might tarnish their brands.

In his tweet blaming activists for a drop in revenue, Musk said “nothing has changed with content moderation.”

Insider Intelligence analyst Jasmine Enberg said there is “little Musk can say to appease advertisers when he’s keeping the company in a constant state of uncertainty and turmoil, and appears indifferent to Twitter employees and the law.”

“Musk needs advertisers more than they need him,” she said. “Pulling ads from Twitter is a quick and painless decision for most brands.”

The Associated Press/NBC
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