When Elon Musk went on a termination spree at Twitter, everyone following the matter knew that many lawsuits were headed his way, which would accuse him and the company of wrongful termination.
A class-action lawsuit has now been filed by several women laid off by Twitter, alleging that Elon Musk and his team of Tesla & SpaceX engineers brought to manage Twitter disproportionately targeted women and other staff on maternity or paternity leaves. The lawsuit also alleges that Musk violated employment laws by discharging significantly more women than men.
The fact that women engineers were conspicuously missing when Musk posted a photograph with some of the remaining engineers on Twitter. That photograph showed that most of the remaining employees at Twitter were, in fact, men.
“Women at Twitter never had a decent shot at being treated fairly once Elon Musk decided to buy the company,” the attorney representing women suing, Shannon Liss-Riordan, said in a press statement. “Instead, they had targets on their backs, and regardless of their talent and contributions, they were at greater risk of losing their jobs than men.”
The Lead plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit are Miami-based Carolina Bernal Stripling, who worked at Twitter for seven years, and California-based Willow Wren Turkal, an engineer who joined Twitter in 2021 after four years at Facebook and LinkedIn.
The complaint cites calculations provided by Mark Killingsworth, an economics professor at Rutgers University, who said that “57 percent of female employees were laid off on November 4, 2022, while 47 percent of male employees were laid off.”
Musk’s tweets have been cited in the complaint as evidence of alleged sexism at Twitter and other companies that Musk owns and manages. The complaint points to one tweet Musk deleted, naming a school using the acronym “TITS,” and a more recent tweet, where the billionaire said, “Testosterone rocks ngl.” The complaint also links to media reports from PC Mag and Futurism discussing the impact of Musk’s alleged misogyny on women who work for him.
The complainants allege that Musk’s layoffs violated protections prohibiting discrimination based on sex. They seek lost back pay, front pay, lost benefits, bonuses, and equity, as well as emotional distress damages, punitive damages, interest, and any other appropriate relief. They also want the court to require Twitter to reinstate female employees who wish to return to work.
The class-action lawsuit also alleges that Musk has discriminated against female employees at Twitter in several other ways.
The complaint alleges that when Musk asked employees to agree to work in the office 24/7 or voluntarily leave their jobs, knowing that such expectations would have a disproportionate impact on women.
On the same day, the women filed their class-action lawsuit, disabled employees and employees taking family or medical leave hit by layoffs also filed a class-action suit, represented by Liss-Riordan. Their complaint alleges that Twitter violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
Several employees who were hired during the pandemic and even before that, with the assurance that they would be working from home because of their medical conditions, were also terminated. When Musk ended Twitter’s policy to allow employees to work from home, employees with disabilities and medical conditions asked their managers if they could continue to work from home. These employees were laid off without explanation except: “Your recent behavior has violated company policy.”
The complaint estimates that Twitter laid off “approximately 60 percent of employees who were on leave” at the time of the November 4 layoffs.