back to article Ex-Twitter employees owed half a billion in severance, says lawsuit

Former Twitter employee Courtney McMillian has filed a complaint claiming the company owes $500 million in severance pay to the thousands of people that were chopped from its once 7,500-strong workforce. The lawsuit also claims that only a touch over 1,000 people are left working at Twitter 2.0, just as the billionaire is …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Twitter lawsuit database

    I've said it before and I'm going to say it again. Someone should create a Twitter lawsuit directory.

    Twitter must now have over a hundred legal cases against it, and probably many dozens more before year end.

    Unfair dismissals, violating labour laws, unpaid bills, breaking laws on privacy and hate speech etc. etc. in many dozens of jurisdictions all across the world, from Germany to Delaware, from Ireland to India. I think we need a searchable database.

    [Start date, end date, jurisdiction, court, case name, case number/docket number, counter party, suit type, suit status, news articles relating to the case, legal analysis relating to the case] did I forget any fields?

    1. pdh

      Re: A Twitter lawsuit database

      There's a wikipedia page for "Google litigation" at but oddly, I don't see anything similar for Twitter.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: A Twitter lawsuit database, filter just by lawyers, but that stopped updating in May.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A Twitter lawsuit database

      Do please be sure to use int64 for EndDate fields.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nearly 600% reduction in staff and...

    ... twitter is still going. What does that really say about Twitter? He should knock it down to about 200 people and see how it goes (or whatever number that kills Twitter off).

    There seems to be a lot of self appointed white knights of Twitter that have some unhealthy isolated emotion of attachment to Twitter that is fun to watch get crushed by Elon. It may or may not be the only thing he's doing right but, it's definitely the best he's doing.

    1. abend0c4

      Re: Nearly 600% reduction in staff and...

      twitter is still going

      Twitter is still going in much the same way Anne Boleyn is still wandering around the Tower of London carrying her head.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Nearly 600% reduction in staff and...

      It doesn't really say much about Twitter. If it had completely collapsed, that would indicate they had some serious quality issues with code. Properly written code should be able to continue running without modification for some time, as long as they don't need it to change very much. Of course, they are now testing various modifications, often pointless ones, to see how far they can push it. As I don't use Twitter, I can't say how well this is going, but I have been seeing more reports of things breaking which suggest that it's not going as well as it once was.

    3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: Nearly 600% reduction in staff and...

      Its a long time since my maths 'A' level but "Nearly 600% reduction in staff and..." to me would mean that their staffing level is in negative numbers (ie 100% would mean zero staff). I can understand counting HR, PR, legal as negatives but still I don't think you can justify the title of your post.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Nearly 600% reduction in staff and...

        "100% would mean zero staff"

        If you increase 0 by 100% what do you have? So, a reduction or increase of 100% can't equal 0 or itself. Reducing by 100% is dividing by 2. Increasing by 100% is multiplying by 2. Now subtraction or addition, sure, less than 0 can occur.

        You're still correct though that 600% is wrong. I used the lower number as the divisor :-/. It was too late to fix it when I realalized (lunch was over).

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Nearly 600% reduction in staff and...

          That's not how percentages work. I don't think it's a big issue; we all understood what you were going for, but just in case it comes up again. Reducing by a percentage is capped at 100% if the value is restricted to non-negative numbers. Thus, employee count can only be reduced by 100% from its current point to another point if it goes to zero. Money can decrease by more than 100%; if I made £100k and next cycle I made a loss of £200k, my profit decreased by 300%. To divide in two is a decrease of 50%, because only 50% remains.

          There are some ways around this if you're willing to get technical and confusing; if I start the comparison at a level and then compare two other points, I can decrease by more than 100%. For example, if a company employs 5000 people in January, 1000 people in May, and 0 people in July, then I could say that their employment decreased by 500% of their May employment level between January and July. As the example demonstrates, that's often not the most useful way to describe something.

    4. Max Pyat

      Re: Nearly 600% reduction in staff and...

      Not how percentages work...

      1. Crypto Monad Silver badge

        Re: Nearly 600% reduction in staff and...

        The baseline of the percentage is what you started with, not what you ended up with.

        * If you start with a pound, put it on a horse, and end up with nothing, then you have made a 100% loss.

        * If you had ended up with 50p, then you would have made a 50% loss.

        * If you had ended up with £2, then you would have made a 100% profit.

        Hence if you start with 1000 people and end up with 200 people, then you can either say that your staffing level is now 20% of what it was before, or that you have lost 80% of your staff.

  3. Grunchy Silver badge

    Stupid name

    I never got into Twitter because it has a stupid name, so I don't care what they're doing or not doing or what the problem is.

  4. trevorde Silver badge

    Meanwhile at Twitter

    (Linda Yacarrino, CEO of Twitter). Hey, Elon! What should we do about paying these ex-employees? ... Elon? ... ELON?

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile at Twitter

      She is not that stupid. She has probably asked her own lawyer "What is the minimum I have to do to avoid any personal consequences?" and "is the company's indemnity cover for executives rock solid?"

      She knew damn well that is job meant standing on the edge of a glass cliff and that Elon would be right behind her. There is no need to jump before she is pushed.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile at Twitter

        Exactly this, Flocke. And also making sure that *her* exit contract is rock solid in the case she's shoved over the edge because Elmo doesn't like her back chat.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Her contract can be as solid as granite, Elon has history in not respecting contracts (at least, at Twitter).

          He's already not paying rent, not paying cloud bills and likely many other bills. What makes you think he's going to pay her golden parachute ?

          She's lucky if she's being paid her salary, at this point.

          1. anothercynic Silver badge

            I'm not referring to her getting a payout, but rather making sure that if she gets the shove, she a) walks away with zero contractual obligations and b) literally *can* walk away with a).

            Not everything in contracts is about money, Pascal. Often it's all about indemnification and other legal moves/avenues that protect the individual from a vindictive counterparty (like Musk).

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Serving as CEO of a failed tech company is reward enough, in the US, where it improves your future employment opportunities. I don't know why boards are so eager to hire the people who rode their previous firms into the ground, but historically they have been.

  5. Groo The Wanderer

    I'd hate to be involved in that lawsuit. By the time the lawyers are done, the litigants will never see a dime.

    Musk will just lawyer up, find loopholes, or even declare Twitter bankruptcy to get away from paying half a billion. He's typical "rich boy" slime that way - there IS no ethical way to earn billions.

    1. yoganmahew

      Right, employees are unsecured creditors, and there's a lot of senior debt that is going to take a shave.

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      there IS no ethical way to earn billions

      Some estimates claim J. K. Rowling is a billionaire. The Harry Potter books are crap,1 but I don't think they're unethical. And if they get some portion of their readers to read2 more than they otherwise would have, they may even have a net good effect.

      1Abysmally shallow characterization, plots that depend on dei ex machina magical toys that are never used again and completely unrealistic behavior, utter lack of stylistic grace – compelling evidence, if any were needed, that popularity is unrelated to quality.

      2And write. Fanfic may be the subject of a great deal of scorn, but it's still intellectual paideia and a flexing of the literary muscles. And I've seen reputable claims that some of it is quite good. (I'll note that the protagonist's fanfic-in-a-fiction in Rowell's Fangirl is superior to its Potter-like fictional source material; obviously that's not an example of real fanfic, but Rowell apparently did a lot of research into fanfic when writing the novel.)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I hate to be involved in that lawsuit, but not becuase of defeatist arm waving

      Bankruptcy wouldn't help before a judgement comes down, and as these decisions are coming from Musk directly, he may have to declare bankruptcy himself to avoid writing a check for his part in this. Not that it is remotely likely he will. Still a rounding error for his personal wealth.

      While there are plenty of reasons for disdain of Twitter, the Chief Twit, and the court system, the reality is that people win employment law judgements against companies all the time. While he could delay things to an extent, delaying tactics aren't a magic wand, and fines aren't the only restorative method or penalty a judge or arbitrator can inflict. The case looks pretty strong too.

      The best legal council money can buy still can't fly by flapping their arms. Clients like Musk are their own worst enemies, and competent council will probably flee from the dumpster fire this case represents. In addition, stiffing people for the bill is another great way to get every competent law firm in your state to start screening your calls.

    4. arctic_haze

      "Musk will just lawyer up"

      I wonder if he will pay the lawyers anything...

  6. Winkypop Silver badge

    May the blue bird of happiness

    Shit in Elon’s eye!

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "subject to Twitter's decision making governance procedures"

    Well isn't that a Get Out Of Jail Free card right there.

    Musk's "governance procedure" is locking up the cash register and throwing (almost) everyone out.

  8. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Ongoing concern

    Twitter was bought by Musk as an ongoing concern so he is obligated to honor all of the severance clauses in employee/management contracts. This would have been one of the things a proper M/A company would have looked into during their Due Diligence research. If Elon would have have contracted with one of the big accounting firms that provides these services and told them he was intending to dismiss a large number of staff, he would have got back a big pile of paper reporting on the costs and legal intricacies for doing that.

    Proper Due Diligence would have also reported on the percentage cost for having offices in the largest city downtown business districts. It might have even turned up that the owners of those properties might be people that take extreme notice when a large tenant stops paying rent and gives them the Bird. Doesn't the King have an interest/ownership in a few buildings that Twitter occupies. Granted, King Charles isn't a supreme sovereign in the same way as a king several hundred years ago would have been, but he's still a very powerful figure. Elon will keep his head, but will Coutts keep on doing his banking? Will HMRC start requiring more detailed reporting from Twitter and make them justify every little thing? I don't think that it would take more than a hint from the King that Elon needs to be reminded that he's a pipsqueak in comparison.

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