Five former Twitter employees have been forced to drop a class-action lawsuit against Elon Musk’s company due to previously signing arbitration agreements. The claims of several employees who did not sign the agreement will continue, and the lawyer representing employees vows a wave of arbitration cases against Musk’s company, explaining, “Mass arbitrations are incredibly costly for companies to defend and many employers have found themselves sorry about what they wished for when they insisted that employees would have to pursue their claims one by one.”
Business Insider reports that five former Twitter employees who were laid off after Elon Musk took control of the company have had their class-action lawsuit against the company dismissed. The ex-employees signed arbitration agreements as part of their employment contracts with Twitter, which stated that they would file legal complaints against the company in arbitration rather than in court. The contracts also included a class-action waiver. US District Judge James Donato upheld this decision in favor of the social media behemoth.
The lawsuit, which was filed in November, charged Twitter with breach of contract and demanded that it pay the laid-off workers the two months of severance pay that they had been promised in addition to the two months of non-working pay they had already been given as part of Twitter’s efforts to comply with the WARN Act, which mandates that California businesses give notice of mass layoffs.
Since Elon Musk took control of Twitter in late October, thousands of employees have been let go. According to the lawsuit, Twitter repeatedly assured its staff before the acquisition that even under the control of the billionaire, they would still receive severance packages at least as good as those that Twitter had previously promised.
Twitter initially promised that employees would receive two months of severance pay. Musk has said that these former employees would receive three months of severance pay. Many laid-off employees, however, have yet to receive this. Instead, they have only received one month’s worth of severance pay.
According to the dispute-resolution agreements provided to the employees with their employment contracts, all disputes, including those involving termination, must be “resolved only by an arbitrator through final and binding arbitration and not by way of court or jury trial.” The agreements further state: “You and the company agree to bring any dispute in arbitration on an individual basis only, and not on a class, collective, or private attorney general representative action basis.”
The dispute-resolution agreements state that arbitration is not a requirement for employment with the company and that employees may opt out by signing a different form. The five plaintiffs signed the dispute-resolution agreements, according to copies from 2017 to 2021, and Donato further claimed that “plaintiffs did not opt out.” All five initial plaintiffs who filed a complaint on November 3 “are ordered to arbitration on an individual basis,” Donato stated.
Donato noted that the three additional plaintiffs who joined the amended complaint on December 9 stated that they had yet to sign the arbitration agreement, adding that they were not subject to Friday’s motion and that he would make a decision regarding their complaints later.
The lawyer for the fired Twitter employees, Shannon Liss-Riordan, claimed she had anticipated the decision. “We also have plaintiffs in the lawsuits already who opted out of arbitration, so those cases will continue as class actions in court, but only employees who opted out of arbitration may be class members covered by the cases,” she said.
Liss-Riordan continued by saying that she had already sent 500 individual arbitration requests and would be sending more. “Mass arbitrations are incredibly costly for companies to defend and many employers have found themselves sorry about what they wished for when they insisted that employees would have to pursue their claims one by one,” she said.
Read more at Business Insider here.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan