Hundreds of former Twitter employees waiting for the severance pay Elon Musk promised when he canned them in November will be required to sign away all rights to bring claims against the company or even speak out about the platform for the rest of their lives before they get any cash, a lawyer representing the workers says.
Attorney Lisa Bloom, who says she represents “many” former Twitter workers who lost jobs in the purges that followed Musk’s buyout of the company, posted that her clients were finally given their severance agreements on Saturday, but that they are really “settlement agreements which silence workers for life” and “require them to give up important legal rights.”
The agreements mean anyone who signs can bring no lawsuits, no arbitration and is even hobbled in providing assistance or cooperation to anyone else with a dispute against Twitter, Bloom said.
“Attorneys like me for employees are often out there begging folks to just give us truthful information to help our underdog clients,” Bloom wrote. “This restriction will severely hamper efforts for workers to get justice against Twitter. Why is this company so afraid of the truth?”
Musk, after purchasing the social media platform for $44 billion on Oct. 27, financing the deal with $13 billion in debt, moved quickly to cut more than half the staff, maintaining that the company was losing over $4 million a day. Initial cuts were followed by a demand that remaining workers pledge to commit to “extremely hardcore” work or leave, which prompted another exodus.
The cuts apparently continue, as Twitter reportedly cut at least a dozen more staffers from its trust and safety team on Friday, Bloomberg reported, estimating that about 2,500 of the 7,500 staff Musk inherited remain with the company.
Former Twitter employees, including former program manager Helen Sage Lee, a client of Bloom’s, are urging their past colleagues to consult with lawyers before agreeing to the deals Twitter offered.
“I was part of the 11/4 layoffs, this is far less than what was promised in writing repeatedly in the acquisition,” Lee posted. “For me personally, the money is one component,” she said in a long Twitter thread. “It’s about principle.”
“I strongly believe that we should be keeping people accountable for the promises that they make and failing to deliver on them. When you acquire a company, you acquire all of the company, debts and all,” Lee wrote, “and we’ve been told in writing that the severance packages that post-acquisition employees receive should be NO LESS FAVORABLE than the ones offered to employees prior to the acquisition.”
To add insult to injury, Business Insider reported that many former staffers found the emailed severance offers, which came from the unknown address “firstname.lastname@example.org,” landed in their spam folders.
The agreements do also require promises that former staffers “assist Twitter in any lawsuit or investigation,” which Bloom called “the coup de grace” of the package.
“Twitter workers who sign the agreement promise nondisparagement: They may not say anything negative about Twitter, nor its management, nor Elon. EVER. FOR LIFE,” Bloom said. “No wonder so many folks are reaching out to me about rejecting this and filing claims.”