It was widely expected that there would be an employment-related “shakeup” to some degree when tech mogul Elon Musk took control of social media giant Twitter. It isn’t uncommon for new company leadership to make employment changes in service of their broader vision for how a business should operate. However, it’s important to understand that layoffs and buyouts cannot be conducted under any circumstances that leadership of a company pleases. Elon Musk seems to be learning this lesson the hard way.
In the weeks after Musk laid off and bought out thousands of workers – amounting to roughly half of Twitter’s workforce – at least 100 affected workers filed legal complaints and initiated arbitration processes due to the allegedly discriminatory way in which these terminations took place. Of particular note were widespread reports that women were targeted both for layoffs and for unfair severance practices.
While these legal complaints are distinct from the class action lawsuit proposed in advance of the transition – insisting that terminations would be unlawful if employees weren’t granted advance notice and proper severance agreements – these complaints argue many of the same concerns. The truly distinguishing factor between them is that these latest arbitration demands involve allegations of unlawful discrimination.
Lawful vs. Unlawful Employment Shakeup Scenarios
Although Musk was generally within his rights to lay off and buy out employees during this period of company transition, layoffs and buy outs may not be used as an excuse to engage in discriminatory practices. There must be no motivation based on anyone’s legally protected immutable characteristics for why one person is let go and a colleague is allowed to stay.
As an experienced Canoga Park, CA sex discrimination lawyer – including those who practice at our firm The Law Offices of Barry P. Goldberg – can confirm, while layoffs and buyouts are lawful endeavors when approached in a certain way, these transitions do not give company leadership permission to act in legally prohibited ways. When any employment termination scenario involves unlawful discrimination, affected employees may be able to hold their former employers accountable via civil action.
Many people think of employment-based discrimination as the harassment, exclusion, or unfair treatment of workers on the job. However, discrimination laws extend to both hiring and termination practices as well. Meaning, if you’ve recently been laid off, bought out, or fired, your former employer’s actions may have been unlawful depending upon the circumstances involved.
As a result, you’ll want to connect with an experienced employment discrimination attorney as soon as you can to clarify your rights and options. It’s also critically important to avoid signing any severance offers or other paperwork until an attorney has reviewed the terms of such agreements. Most of the time, when a worker agrees to accept a severance package, they sign away their right to sue their employer at any time in the future. If you’ve been offered severance and the package either isn’t fairly valued or your rights have been infringed upon, you may be missing out on significant compensation by accepting your employer’s offer.