Twitter Inc. is facing a lawsuit after refusing to participate in arbitration with former employees who were terminated during Elon Musk’s takeover of the company.
These ex-employees had initiated the arbitration process to address issues related to unpaid wages, unfulfilled severance agreements, and alleged discrimination.
The lawsuit alleges that Twitter, now known as X Corp., has been involved in multiple labour and workplace violation cases, including the non-payment of thousands of workers who were laid off after Musk’s acquisition.
The complaint, filed in San Francisco federal court on Monday, claims that Twitter has failed to appear in arbitration proceedings despite demanding that the ex-employees resolve their claims through this process.
Closed-door hearings put workers at a disadvantage
Shannon Liss-Riordan, an attorney representing former Twitter employees, stated that she is continuing to file arbitration cases and receiving calls from current employees who are also filing claims related to unpaid bonuses from the previous year. Twitter had previously won a legal ruling in January, which compelled employees who had signed arbitration agreements to settle their disputes through closed-door hearings overseen by private judges rather than pursuing class-action lawsuits in public courts.
This approach often places workers at a disadvantage, as companies typically possess greater resources and legal support, discouraging employees from pursuing their claims further.
Twitter refuses to engage in arbitration
According to Liss-Riordan, Twitter is now refusing to engage in arbitration, despite the contractual obligation outlined in its employment agreements. She noted, “Now that it has made its bed, it doesn’t want to lie in it.” Liss-Riordan represents Twitter workers in various lawsuits against the company. Twitter declined to provide a comment on the matter.
Elon Musk terminated approximately half of Twitter’s workforce, which amounted to 7,500 employees, following his $44 billion acquisition of the company in November. The layoffs continued into 2023, resulting in the company’s headcount dropping below 2,000 employees.
The case is titled Fabien Ho Ching Ma v. Twitter, 23-cv-03301, and is being heard in the US District Court for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.