Six former employees have sued Elon Musk and Twitter over broken severance promises in a lawsuit that also shines a light on the allegedly dysfunctional inner workings of the social media company in the aftermath of Musk’s acquisition.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in a Delaware district court and obtained by Rolling Stone, accuses Musk, Twitter, and parent company X Corp. of fraud, wage theft, breach of contract, and more after the six employees “were fired or constructively discharged” from Twitter despite a pre-acquisition merger agreement.
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“Led by Musk and the cadres of sycophants who were internally referred to as the transition team, Twitter’s new leadership deliberately, specifically, and repeatedly announced their intentions to breach contracts, violate laws, and otherwise ignore their legal obligations,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit details the chaos in the company following Musk’s post-acquisition restructuring and mass layoffs as a transition team took charge, including former Global Head of Construction and Design Joe Killian’s account regarding the radical (and potentially illegal) changes Musk wanted to make at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters. (The transition team itself was stocked by employees of Musk’s Space X and Boring Company, as well as investors.)
Killian — one of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs — remained with Twitter after Musk’s purchase but ultimately resigned following a string of upper management decisions that he felt endangered his prospects of finding work again: Namely, Musk’s refusal to pay the rent on Twitter HQ (“Over his dead body,” a member of the transition team told Killian) and the converting of conference rooms into permit-skirting “sleeping rooms,” which in turn resulted “non compliant electrical work” and potentially life-threatening door locks.
“Between the demands that he effectively participate in theft and fraud and instructions to take actions in violation of California law and that could put his colleagues lives at risk in the event of a fire a possibility only increased by the unlicensed use of space heaters Killian had no choice but to walk away from the job he had dedicated over a decade of his life to,” the lawsuit states.
In the case of four other former employees, “Musk’s Twitter fired them after the acquisition, and then flatly refused to pay them their contractually required severance. This was severance that Twitter and Musk had in order to induce Tweeps to stay through the close of the merger promised would be paid if Musk conducted a layoff, and which Twitter and X Holdings had bound themselves to pay under the terms of the Merger Agreement.”
One of the former employees also alleged that their age (over 40) and sexual orientation (bisexual) were a “substantial factor motivating Twitter’s decision to terminate” them. “The actions that Twitter took to layoff or fire its employees were discriminatory,” the lawsuit states.
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