Following rumors that have been making rounds for several weeks that Elon Musk would lay off workers once he acquired Twitter, the retrenchment exercise has begun on Friday. Many employees got personal emails that they have been laid off on Friday, forcing several employees to file a class-action lawsuit challenging the retrenchment at a San Francisco court.
In a mass letter sent out on Thursday and signed by Twitter, the company said the layoff was necessary to salvage the economic viability of the social media platform and thanked those impacted for their contributions to building the company.
“Team, in an effort to place Twitter on a healthy path, we will go through the difficult process of reducing our global workforce on Friday,” the sack letter reads. “We recognize that this will impact a number of individuals who have made valuable contributions to Twitter, but this action is, unfortunately, necessary to ensure the company’s success moving forward.”
With Twitter having 7,500 employees around the world and about half of this tipped to be retrenched, the actual number of people who have been laid off remains anonymous. But workers who received the sack letters on Thursday were advised to not report to their workplaces on Friday, and almost everyone that was so notified lost access to the company’s internal systems.
A few however got emails that their work status is in review while at least one person got emailed that they would keep their job till February. “During this time, you will be on a Non-Working Notice period and your access to Twitter systems will be deactivated,” the email notified the New York worker. Twitter made it clear that some workers were being fired based on factors such as their country and their job profiles.
Some workers in Dublin where Twitter’s European headquarters is situated had their access to the company’s systems suspended but their employment status is still unknown. “These decisions never come easy,” it said, “and it is with regret that we write to inform you that your role at Twitter has been identified as potentially impacted or at risk of redundancy,” they were told via email.
Many sacked employees who did not check their emails on Thursday but reported to work on Friday were not allowed access to their offices even though they had their access badges tagged on. They were told that they could not also take anything from their offices and should leave immediately.
“To help ensure the safety of each employee as well as Twitter systems and customer data, our offices will be temporarily closed and all badge access will be suspended,” the email said. “We acknowledge this is an incredibly challenging experience to go through, whether or not you are impacted. We are grateful for your contributions to Twitter and for your patience as we move through this process.”
The Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act require that big organizations give two months’ notification to workers affected by a potential layoff. Representing the employees in the class-action lawsuit, attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan said employees were not notified of being affected by a planned retrenchment. The Employment Development Department in California also said Twitter did not file any notices of any planned layoffs.
“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 said. “We will now see if he is going to continue to thumb his nose at the laws of this country that protect employees. It appears that he’s repeating the same playbook of what he did at Tesla.”