$500 Million Class Action Case Against Twitter for Refusing Promised Severance Pay
The widely-used social media platform, Twitter finds itself embroiled in a new legal battle as a lawsuit claims it failed to honor its commitment to provide at least $500 million in severance payments to thousands of employees who were laid off following the acquisition by tech mogul Elon Musk. The class action lawsuit filed by Courtney McMillian, a former Twitter employee, alleges that Twitter violated federal employee benefit plan regulations, reports CNBC.
Details of the lawsuit
Courtney McMillian who held the position of 'Head of total rewards' at Twitter has initiated a proposed class action lawsuit in a federal court in San Francisco. The lawsuit asserts that Twitter established a severance plan in 2019, which promised employees two months of their base pay, in addition to one week of pay for each full year of service, if they were laid off. Senior employees, including McMillian, were purportedly entitled to six months of base pay as part of the severance package. However, according to the lawsuit, Twitter failed to fulfill its obligations, providing laid-off workers with a maximum of only one month's severance pay, while many received no severance at all, Reuters reported.
Twitter's unconventional response
In response to the lawsuit, Twitter opted for an unconventional approach and used a poop emoji as its statement rather than providing an official response, reports Reuters. While the reasons for this unique response remain unclear, it is worth noting that Twitter no longer has a media relations department to handle such matters. Previously, Twitter has been sued over breach of contract claims related to severance pay. However, this lawsuit specifically accuses Twitter and Elon Musk of violating federal regulations governing employee benefit plans. Twitter has previously stated that it has paid ex-employees their full severance amounts.
Additional lawsuits against Twitter
Apart from the severance pay lawsuit, Twitter is facing other legal challenges related to the layoffs that occurred following the acquisition. One pending lawsuit alleges that the company failed to pay millions of dollars in bonuses owed to remaining employees. Twitter has vehemently denied the merit of these claims. Furthermore, the company is also facing allegations of gender and disability discrimination in its layoff decisions. Twitter has responded to these cases, denying any wrongdoing.
The impact of Elon Musk's acquisition
Elon Musk, renowned for his involvement in companies like Tesla and SpaceX, acquired Twitter in October 2022, leading to significant changes within the company. As a cost-cutting measure, Twitter laid off over half of its workforce following the acquisition, aiming to streamline operations and redefine its direction under new leadership. However, the layoffs have sparked legal disputes and raised questions about severance obligations and employee rights.
Legal implications and future proceedings
Courtney McMillian's lawsuit accuses Twitter and Elon Musk of violating federal regulations governing employee benefit plans. Should the court find that Twitter failed to fulfill its severance obligations as outlined in the 2019 severance plan, the company could be held liable for not providing the promised compensation to laid-off employees. The outcome of the lawsuit will have broader implications for employee rights and the responsibilities of companies during major acquisitions.
Twitter owes ex-employees $500 million in severance, lawsuit claims.— Madhu Menon (@madmanweb) July 14, 2023
Humanitarian and business genius Elon would never do this, so there has to be no merit in this case. https://t.co/eL8IsKFYGl
The lawsuit against Twitter, alleging its failure to pay the promised severance of at least $500 million to laid-off employees following Elon Musk's acquisition, sheds light on the ongoing legal challenges faced by the social media giant, per Reuters. As the litigation progresses, the outcome will provide insight into the responsibility of companies in fulfilling severance obligations and complying with federal regulations.
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