Twitter is being sued for not giving employees advanced written notice of a mass layoff, in violation of worker protection laws including the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act as well as the California WARN Act, both of which require 60 days of advance notice, TechCrunch reported.
Bloomberg first reported the news of the lawsuit, filed on November 3, 2022, in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.
According to TechCrunch, the complaint alleges that Twitter began its layoffs on November 1, when it terminated the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Emmanuel Cornet, without providing the proper written notice in violation of U.S. and California law. Additional plaintiffs, Justine De Caires, Jessica Pan, and Grae Kindel said they were terminated on November 3 by being locked out of their accounts.
Twitter is also enacting widespread layoffs across its workforce today, on November 4, 2022, it stated, adding that California’s Employment Development Department had not received a notice related to the event.
In a new complaint against Twitter, the plaintiffs are asking the court to declare that Twitter has violated the federal and California WARN Acts and certify the case as a class action suit. According to TechCrunch, it’s also asking the court to stop Twitter from having laid-off employees sign documents that would release their claims without informing them of the lawsuit. And it’s seeking a range of relief, including compensatory damages (including wages owed), as well as declaratory relief, pre- and post-judgement interest, plus other attorneys’ fees and costs.
TechCrunch also reported: Twitter hasn’t responded to requests for comment – but that could also be because its comms staff has been included in the layoffs.
The Verge reported that the lawsuit was filed in an attempt to “make sure 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 complaint on Thursday night, told Bloomberg.
The Verge posted a copy of the lawsuit at the end of their article.
The Guardian reported that the lawsuit cited a similar situation with sackings at Musk’s other company, Tesla, where the company sought to obtain full release from its obligations under the Warn Act by offering severance of one or two weeks’ pay instead.
To me, this sounds like a pattern. I’m not surprised that the Tesla layoffs would be brought up in court, considering how similar they sound to the Twitter layoffs. It is unclear to me if Elon Musk was unaware of the labor laws or if he simply hoped he would get away with firing workers this way.