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

From the moment Elon Musk began layoffs at Twitter, former employees immediately started suing. In a matter of weeks, Twitter was hit with multiple class-action laws, with employees alleging that Twitter violated laws by denying proper severance and discriminating against women and staff with disabilities or on family or medical leave. These class actions didn’t seem to faze Musk, though, as he continued with staff cuts without delivering promised severance to many. Instead of paying ex-employees, he eventually further escalated threats to terminate remaining staff, abruptly firing employees for criticizing him and threatening to sue employees who leak internal Twitter communications.

It’s clear that Musk feels confident facing down potential legal battles against former Twitter staff, but what’s not clear is who he imagines will be helping him win. Yesterday The New York Times reported that Musk has begun to “shake up” his legal team at Twitter as he gets ready to overcome all these claims, according to seven people familiar with what’s going on at Twitter. He even reportedly dismissed one of his closest legal allies, his personal attorney, Alex Spiro, after Musk discovered that it was Spiro who made a controversial call to retain Twitter general counsel James A. Baker.

A person familiar with the matter told Ars that Spiro was never a Twitter employee and wasn’t fired. Spiro only ever served a transitional advisory role at Twitter, and moving forward, he will continue to work as a trial lawyer representing Musk generally and representing Twitter on multiple pending cases. The source confirmed that NYT’s reporting was generally accurate but could not confirm if Baker had anything to do with Twitter’s recent decision to decline to retain Spiro’s services on future litigation.

Anyone following the “Twitter Files” knows that Baker quickly exited Twitter after Musk’s reporters Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss realized that Baker was reviewing all the files being shared and suspected he was “suppressing” information. Apparently, Musk didn’t know the chain of command for releasing the files to reporters.

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

Without Spiro or Baker onboard to help Musk fight back lawsuits, Musk has brought in more than half a dozen SpaceX lawyers, the Times reported. This reportedly includes top experts like Chris Cardaci, SpaceX vice president of legal, and Tim Hughes, SpaceX senior vice president of global business and government affairs.

It’s likely Musk will turn to Hughes for guidance as the Federal Trade Commission threatens more legal challenges. If the FTC finds that Twitter misled users over privacy protections, that would violate a decade-old consent decree. NYT reported that the FTC has already sent Twitter letters asking how staff cuts have potentially impacted Twitter’s ability to uphold that agreement. Before he was dismissed from advising Twitter, Spiro had previously said that Musk “puts rockets into space” and was “not afraid of the FTC.”

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

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