Women's Lawsuit Accuses Twitter of Bias in Layoffs

57% of female employees and 47% of male workers lost jobs, filing says
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 8, 2022 5:15 PM CST
Twitter Layoffs Affected Women More, Lawsuit Says
The headquarters for the social media company Twitter is seen in San Francisco last month.   (Stephen Lam/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

Two women who lost their jobs at Twitter when Elon Musk took over are suing the company in federal court, claiming that last month's abrupt mass layoffs disproportionately affected female employees. The discrimination lawsuit is the latest legal challenge over Musk's decimation of Twitter's workforce through mass layoffs and firings. Days after the world's richest man bought the social media platform for $44 billion, the company told about half of employees on Nov. 4 that they no longer had a job but would get three months' severance. The lawsuit filed in a San Francisco federal court this week alleges that 57% of female employees were laid off, the AP reports, compared to 47% of men, despite Twitter employing more men overall before the layoffs.

The cutbacks continued throughout November as Musk fired engineers who questioned or criticized him and gave all remaining employees the choice to resign with severance or sign a form pledging "extremely hardcore" work and dedication to Twitter's new direction. Scores more lost their jobs after declining to make the pledge. San Francisco-based Twitter started the year with about 7,500 employees worldwide, according to a filing with securities regulators. Now a private company, it hasn't disclosed how many are left. Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. The lawsuit was filed late Wednesday on behalf of former employees Carolina Bernal Strifling and Willow Wren Turkal on behalf of similarly situated female workers.

The gap is even greater for women in engineering-related roles—63% were laid off, compared to 48% of men with engineering roles, according to the lawsuit filed by Boston workers' rights attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan. "The mass termination of employees at Twitter has impacted female employees to a much greater extent than male employees—and to a highly statistically significant degree," Liss-Riordan wrote. "Moreover, Elon Musk has made a number of publicly discriminatory remarks about women, further confirming that the mass termination's greater impact on female employees resulted from discrimination."

(Read more Twitter stories.)

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