Elon Musk in sexism row as ex-Twitter staff say women were targeted in layoffs

Elon Musk at Met gala - ANDREW KELLY/REUTERS
Elon Musk at Met gala - ANDREW KELLY/REUTERS

Two women have sued Twitter for sex descrimination during sweeping layoffs of thousands of staff orchestrated by billionaire owner Elon Musk.

The former female staff members have brought an unfair dismissal claim against the tech company, arguing more women were laid off than men by Mr Musk.

In a court filing, the former staff claimed Mr Musk had unfairly demanded staff commit to “extremely hardcore” working hours, despite knowing this would force mothers and female caregivers to quit.

Lawyers for the claimants said: “Elon Musk would certainly have known that these policy changes and expectations would have a disproportionate impact on women, who are more often caregivers for children and other family members, and thus not able to comply with such demands.”

“Musk used these demands as a way to force more employees out of their jobs.”

The claimants state some staff were told they would need to work “24/7” to meet Mr Musk’s product demands and sleep in the office. This week, it emerged that Twitter had been converting some office space into bedrooms so employees can sleep at its headquarters.

The legal claim, brought by former staff members Carolina Bernal Strifling and Willow Wren Turkal, alleges that 57pc of female staff were laid off during Twitter’s mass sackings on November 4, compared to 47pc of men. The layoffs came days after Mr Musk acquired the company for $44bn.

Mr Musk’s company is already facing a class action claim from employees who argue they were unfairly laid off by the company without enough notice, in breach of California law.

The company has been forced into a u-turn on some job cuts. It admitted to the Irish High Court that one Dublin executive was in fact still employed by the company, despite cutting it off from the company’s systems as part of job cuts.

Mr Musk has also sent letters out to some employees who were sacked, offering them their jobs back as an exodus of top staff continues.

Speaking outside the San Francisco court, Shannon Liss-Riordan, the claimants’ lawyer, said the case aimed to show that the “richest man in the world is not above the law”.

Twitter was contacted for comment.