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Twitter hit with lawsuit claiming mass firings targeted a disproportionate number of women

In brief: Twitter is facing another class-action lawsuit from former employees who were fired following Elon Musk’s takeover of the company. The latest case claims that the terminations impacted female employees to a much greater extent than male employees and that Musk made publicly discriminatory remarks about women.

Musk has laid off around half of Twitter’s 7,500 employees since taking over. Two former workers have filed a lawsuit in San Francisco alleging the new owner’s policies had a “disproportionate impact” on women.

The suit states that 57% of female employees were laid off on November 4, 2022, while 47% of male employees were laid off, a disparity it calls extremely statistically significant. The lawsuit’s data analysis also states that 63% of women in engineering roles were laid off compared to 48% of men in similar positions.

Musk’s hardcore Twitter 2.0 initiative was also highlighted. Musk gave employees an ultimatum last month: commit to working up to 70 hours per week in the office or leave the company. It’s claimed this had most impact on women “who are more often caregivers for children and other family members, and thus not able to comply with such demands.”

Boston workers’ rights attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, who filed the suit, said she wanted to show that “the richest man in the world is not above the law.”

“Musk and Twitter think they’re never going to be held accountable in court. We are arguing that the arbitration agreements (signed by Twitter staff) are not enforceable. But if we have to go through arbitration one by one, we are ready to do that,” Liss-Riordan said.

This is one of several lawsuits former workers have launched against Musk and Twitter since being terminated. One claims the mass firings violated the WARN act as employees weren’t given enough notice. Another alleges that Musk removing the option for remote work discriminated against disabled workers as Twitter did not provide reasonable accommodation.

It’s not just the US where Musk’s changes have led to court cases. Sinead McSweeney, Twitter’s global vice president for public policy, won a temporary injunction in Ireland last week to stop Twitter from terminating her employment after she didn’t respond to the “hardcore” email ultimatum. AP reports that after McSweeney’s lawyers received assurances from Twitter that her job was still valid, she found her access pass didn’t work when she tried to return to the Dublin office.

“I felt utterly humiliated, deeply confused and was reduced to tears in a public place,” McSweeney said.

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