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Judge Gives ‘Woke’ Twitter Employees Who Filed Class-Action Lawsuit Against Elon Musk a Reality Check

    Elon Musk has prevailed against disgruntled ex-Twitter employees who filed a class-action lawsuit against him for terminating them without more generous severance payments.

    U.S. District Judge James Donato ruled in Twitter’s favor on Friday, saying in his order that the former employees had signed arbitration agreements as part of their employment contracts with Twitter.  The signed agreements indicated the employees would bring legal disputes to arbitration instead of to court and also included a class-action waiver.

    “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 agreements said.

    The dispute-resolution agreements also state that “arbitration is not a mandatory condition of employee’s employment at the company.” The workers were also offered a separate form if they chose to opt out.

    “Twitter provided signed copies of the agreements, and they are all clear and straightforward,” Donato wrote in his order.

    The five initial plaintiffs who filed their complaint were “ordered to arbitration on an individual basis.” Donato added that the three workers who opted out and suing Musk were unaffected by the decision.

    Shannon Liss-Riordan, the lawyer representing the laid-off Twitter workers, told Insider that she had anticipated the ruling. “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.

    Musk has purged the company of thousands of employees since his takeover of Twitter. He had suggested at one point that these former employees would get three months of severance pay, while the lawsuit claims that they were owed at least two months of severance pay. Many employees instead were given one month of severance pay.

    Before their termination, Woke Twitter employees filed a hilarious list of demands to Elon Musk and the Board of Directors.

    Staff, Elon Musk, and Board of Directors: We, the undersigned Twitter workers, believe the public conversation is in jeopardy. Elon Musk’s plan to lay off 75% of Twitter workers will hurt Twitter’s ability to serve the public conversation. A threat of this magnitude is reckless, undermines our users’ and customers’ trust in our platform, and is a transparent act of worker intimidation.

    Twitter has significant effects on societies and communities across the globe. As we speak, Twitter is helping to uplift independent journalism in Ukraine and Iran, as well as powering social movements around the world.

    A threat to workers at Twitter is a threat to Twitter’s future. These threats have an impact on us as workers and demonstrate a fundamental disconnect with the realities of operating Twitter. They threaten our livelihoods, access to essential healthcare, and the ability for visa holders to stay in the country they work in. We cannot do our work in an environment of constant harassment and threats. Without our work, there is no Twitter.

    We, the workers at Twitter, will not be intimidated. We recommit to supporting the communities, organizations, and businesses who rely on Twitter. We will not stop serving the public conversation. We call on Twitter management and Elon Musk to cease these negligent layoff threats. As workers, we deserve concrete commitments so we can continue to preserve the integrity of our platform.

    We demand of current and future leadership:

    Respect: We demand leadership to respect the platform and the workers who maintain it by committing to preserving the current headcount.

    Safety: We demand that leadership does not discriminate against workers on the basis of their race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or political beliefs. We also demand safety for workers on visas, who will be forced to leave the country they work in if they are laid off.

    Protection: We demand Elon Musk explicitly commit to preserve our benefits, those both listed in the merger agreement and not (e.g. remote work). We demand leadership to establish and ensure fair severance policies for all workers before and after any change in ownership.

    Dignity: We demand transparent, prompt and thoughtful communication around our working conditions. We demand to be treated with dignity, and to not be treated as mere pawns in a game played by billionaires.

    Sincerely, Twitter workers

    In summary, the Twitter workers demanded to keep their jobs. That didn’t work out. They demanded to work from home. That didn’t work out. Then some of them filed a class-action lawsuit. That didn’t work out.

    Welcome to the real world. Nobody owes you anything.

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    OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.