Former Twitter employees accuse it of holding up 891 arbitrations

Class action claims company refusing to pay mandated fees

A proposed class action brought by a former Twitter worker laid off last year, allegedly for not clicking yes on Elon Musk's "go hardcore or go home" email, has accused the company of holding up 891 arbitrations.

The lawsuit claims the company is putting a spanner in the works of the actions even though employees all signed contracts obligating them to take any disputes to that platform rather than a civil court.

The suit [PDF] filed in Northern California yesterday notes that when "class action lawsuits were filed against Twitter in court, Twitter regularly moved to compel arbitration, and it succeeded (with respect to employees who were bound by an arbitration clause)."

The suit also includes several attachments of the clauses seen in these employees' contracts, stating that the "majority of these agreements provide that the parties agree to bring any claims in arbitration before Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services (JAMS)." JAMS is a private arbitration service provider.

However, the suit alleges Twitter now "refuses to pay the full arbitration fees for these cases," and the services provider has told the former staffers' legal reps that it will close its files on the disputes.

According to the lawsuit, Twitter served JAMS with notice of its refusal to pay these fees and on June 30 JAMS said it would "not proceed with cases that we have determined fall under our Employment Minimum Standards if Respondent will not abide by those standards."

Three days later, former Twitter engineer Fabien Ho Ching Ma filed a petition to compel Twitter into arbitration in the Northern District of California.

According to an attachment to the complaint, Ma "was laid off from his job at Twitter when he did not click 'yes' in response to a message from Elon Musk on November 16, 2022." His legal team referred to another class action complaint [PDF] showing this meant Musk's so-called "hardcore" email – the billionaire's ultimatum that any "remaining employees would have to 'be extremely hardcore', including 'working long hours at high intensity'" in order to keep their jobs. According to the earlier complaint, "remaining employees still working for Twitter were given until 5:00 P.M. Eastern time the following day, November 17, 2022, to click 'yes' on a link to agree to this vision Musk stated for 'Twitter 2.0'."

This week's suit – the one relating to arbitrations – claims that since Twitter was bought by multibillionaire Elon Musk, "the company has laid off, terminated, or constructively discharged a very substantial portion (75 percent or more) of its employees."

It adds:

These employees have made various claims against the company concerning their separations from Twitter, including claims related to unpaid severance payments, discrimination, and other legal obligations that Twitter has refused to comply with.

Ma's attorney, Shannon Liss-Riordan, told us in an emailed statement: "Now that Twitter has realized it is facing thousands of arbitration demands and it is going to be extraordinarily expensive to arbitrate the employees' claims individually, it is declining to proceed with arbitration (except in a few states, such as California). So we are moving to compel it to arbitration.

"The reason we had to file nearly 2,000 individual arbitration demands is because Twitter forced us to – by moving to compel arbitration. Now that it has made its bed, it doesn't want to lie in it."

The law firm said it had filed 11 class complaints in court and "nearly 2,000 individual arbitrations against Twitter." According to its website, the firm believes "all employees who were employed at Twitter before Elon Musk bought the company and have lost their jobs are entitled to additional severance pay, and many have additional legal claims as well."

It was a public holiday yesterday in the US, commemorating the American colonies' secession from Great Britain, and Twitter's owner must have been taking a long weekend break as he hadn't tweeted since Sunday. The platform experienced a weekend of wobbles after Musk enacted harsh rate limits on tweet views and posts in order "to address extreme levels of data scraping and system manipulation." As we noted earlier this week, Twitter under Musk's rule has made a habit of not paying its bills as it continues to try to move its business model into one where it actually stops losing money.

In the wake of the Silicon Valley Bank debacle, investors are suddenly following the mantra of "revenues are vanity, profit is sanity" after years of ignoring reality. A banking techie we spoke to recently told us his team had been baffled for years over Twitter's business model – but "there's no telling investors."

Needless to say, Musk's press email responded to our request for comment with his customary poomoji. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like