Musk-owned Twitter sued for violating California and federal law wi​th mass layoffs

Musk-owned Twitter sued for violating California and federal law wi​th mass layoffs
SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the SpaceX Falcon Heavy Flight 1 post launch press conference, "self-photographed," image via Daniel Oberhaus (2018) / Flickr.

Just a week after completing his takeover of Twitter, billionaire Elon Musk was hit with a class-action lawsuit Thursday over his attempt to fire roughly half of the social media company's employees—a move that workers say violates California and federal laws requiring at least 60 days of notice for mass layoffs.

The lawsuit was filed in a federal court in San Francisco shortly after Twitter employees, who are not unionized, began receiving emails late Thursday notifying them of the sweeping job cuts. Some learned they were among those losing their jobs when they were unable to access the company's communication channels.

"Numbers dwindling down in the [Slack] channels last hour, people dropping like flies," one employee told The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity, fearing retribution from Musk, the self-proclaimed champion of free expression who has a long record of cracking down on workers' speech.

Under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, companies with more than 100 employees must provide at least 60 calendar days of advance notification for mass layoffs. California has its own version of the WARN Act with similar requirements.

"We filed this lawsuit tonight in an attempt to 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 the lawsuit Thursday, told Bloomberg.

"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 Twitter's new owner and CEO. "It appears that he's repeating the same playbook of what he did at Tesla."

As Bloomberg noted, "Liss-Riordan sued Tesla Inc. over similar claims in June when the electric-car maker headed by Musk laid off about 10% 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," the outlet added.

Prior to finalizing his $44 billion purchase of Twitter—a buy-out financed in part by a prominent Saudi billionaire—Musk suggested he wanted to eliminate 75% of the company's 7,500-employee workforce. Through a holding company, Saudi Arabia has a major stake in the now-private social media company.

After seizing control of Twitter, Musk swiftly dissolved the board of directors and fired top executives, including the former CEO. One worker compared Musk's erratic and dictatorial management style to that of former President Donald Trump.

"We're all working for the Trump White House," the worker said.

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