Musk may try to deny compensation to thousands laid off by Twitter, report says

From the moment Elon Musk started shooting on Twitter, former employees immediately started filing complaints. Within weeks, Twitter was the target of several class-action lawsuits, with employees alleging that Twitter broke the law by withholding adequate compensation payments and discriminating against women and employees with disabilities or on sick or family leave. These class-action lawsuits didn’t seem to scare Musk, as he continued his staff cuts without delivering the severance package promised to many. Instead of paying former employees, he ended up escalating threats to fire remaining employees, abruptly firing employees for criticizing him and threatening to sue employees who leaked internal communications on Twitter.

It’s clear that Musk feels confident about potential legal battles against former Twitter employees, but what’s not clear is who he thinks will help him win. Yesterday, The New York Times reported that Musk has begun “agitating” his legal team on Twitter as he prepares to overcome all these claims, according to seven people familiar with what’s going on on Twitter. He even fired one of his closest legal allies, his personal lawyer Alex Spiro, after Musk discovered that it was Spiro who made a controversial appeal to retain Twitter’s general counsel, James A. Baker.

A person familiar with the matter told Ars that Spiro was never employed by Twitter and was not fired. Spiro has only played a transitional advisory role at Twitter, and going forward, will continue to work as a litigator, representing Musk generally and representing Twitter in several ongoing cases. The source confirmed that the NYT reports were generally accurate, but couldn’t confirm whether Baker had anything to do with Twitter’s recent decision to decline to hold Spiro for future litigation.

Those who follow the ‘Twitter Files’ know that Baker quickly left Twitter after the Musk reporters Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss directed that Baker was reviewing all shared files and suspected he was “deleting” information. Apparently, Musk didn’t know the chain of command to release the files to reporters.

Prior to his time at Twitter, Baker previously worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He appeared to be considered compromised by “Twitter Files” reporters for his history of leaking information to the press.

Without Spiro or Baker on board to help Musk fight the lawsuits, Musk brought in more than half a dozen SpaceX lawyers, the Times reported. This would include leading experts such as Chris Cardaci, SpaceX’s Vice President of Legal, and Tim Hughes, SpaceX’s Senior Vice President of Global and Government Affairs.

Musk is likely to turn to Hughes for advice as the Federal Trade Commission threatens new legal challenges. If the FTC finds that Twitter misled users about privacy, it would violate a decade-old consent decree. The NYT reported that the FTC has already sent letters to Twitter asking how the staffing cuts have potentially affected Twitter’s ability to comply with this agreement. Before he was fired as a Twitter adviser, Spiro previously said that Musk is “putting rockets into space” and is “not afraid of the FTC”.

Neither SpaceX nor Twitter immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment.

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