Twitter layoffs ‘callous’, possibly in violation of federal, state law
November 4, 2022
A lawsuit was filed against Twitter for allegedly violating California’s WARN Act by failing to give enough notice about ongoing mass layoffs.
Cathy Creighton is the director of the Buffalo Co-Lab at Cornell’s ILR School and a labor law expert. She can speak to the law, implications for Twitter and possible impacts for the wider labor-management landscape.
“Musk’s treatment of his workers is very poor in so many ways. Termination of employment is one of the worst things that can happen to a person as it eliminates a means of providing a person and their family with a living. Employees do not expect to be summarily terminated, especially by a person of such wealth and means as Mr. Musk. Also, since health insurance is often tied to employment in the U.S., employees who are terminated also lose their health insurance, which of course can be devastating. Shame on Mr. Musk for treating his workers so callously and shabby.
“Twitter may be running afoul of federal and state law. Under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN Act), when there is a mass layoff, employers must give 60 days’ notice to employees. It does not seem that employees received such notice. Additionally, California Law requires 60 days’ notice and there are higher penalties for violating the law. Failure to give proper notice under the California WARN Act results in a penalty of $500 per day per employee. Additionally, the employer must pay employees’ health insurance claims as if the employee had their employer health insurance plan during the notice period.
“Employees who are unionized would receive notice and an opportunity to bargain over a layoff. Tech workers in the U.S. who are looking at their employers following Elon Musk’s lead might want to consider unionizing their workplaces. A unionized workforce has many protections that nonunion employees do not have – this is just one example.”