Elon Musk Accused of Discrimination by Twitter Africa Employees Over Severance Terms

CNN Business

Laid-off employees at Twitter’s Africa headquarters accuse Twitter of “willfully and recklessly disobeying the laws of Ghana” and trying to “silence and intimidate” them after they were laid off.

The team has hired a lawyer and has sent a letter to the company demanding it comply with the labor laws of the West African nation, provide them with additional severance pay and other relevant benefits, in line with what other Twitter employees will receive.

They also called on the Ghanaian government to force Twitter to “adhere to Ghana’s severance laws and offer employees fair and just bargaining and severance pay,” according to a letter to the country’s Director of Labor obtained by CNN.

“It is clear that Twitter, Inc., under the leadership of Elon Musk, is knowingly or recklessly violating the laws of Ghana, operating in bad faith and in a manner that seeks to silence and intimidate former employees into agreeing to any terms that presented to them unilaterally. ”, the letter says.

Twitter fired all but one of the African employees just four days after the company opened a physical office in the capital Accra following the Musk takeover. But a dozen employees were not offered severance pay, which they say is required by Ghanaian labor laws, based on their employment contracts. They also claim that they were not informed about the next steps, unlike employees in the United States and Europe, until a day after CNN reported on their situation.

CNN reached out to Twitter for comment but did not hear back.

In the letter to Twitter Ghana Ltd, obtained by CNN, the African employees rejected a “Ghana Mutual Separation Agreement” from Twitter, which they say was sent to their personal emails offering the final payment that the company claims to have arrived after a negotiation.

Several members of the team and their attorney told CNN that there was no such severance pay negotiation. They say it fell short of what the law requires and contradicts what Musk tweeted that departing employees would receive.

“Everyone who got out was offered 3 months severance which is 50% more than legally required,” Musk tweeted. Twitter informed Ghanaian employees in early November that they would be paid until their last day of work, December 4. And they will continue to receive full payment and benefits during the 30-day notice period.

“He was very vague, not talking about pending leave or paid time off, and only asked us to sign if we agreed. I never bothered to go back to the document because it’s rubbish and it still violates labor laws here,” a former employee told CNN on condition of anonymity.

The Accra-based team accuses Twitter of treating them in bad faith, of not being transparent and of discriminating against them compared to employees laid off in other jurisdictions.

“Employees are distraught, humiliated and intimidated by this turn of events. There are non-Ghanaian employees, some with young families, who moved here to take jobs and are now unceremoniously left in the lurch, with no provision for repatriation expenses and no way to contact Twitter, Inc. and argue or plead their case. ,” says the notice to the Ghana Director of Labor.

His lawyer, Carla Olympio, says the sudden dismissal of almost the entire team violated Ghanaian labor law because it is considered a “dismissal” that requires three months’ notice to the authorities and negotiation over severance pay.

In stark contrast to the company’s internal assurances given to Twitter employees around the world prior to the acquisition, little effort appears to have been made to comply with Ghanaian labor laws and the protections enshrined therein for workers in circumstances in which companies are making mass layoffs due to restructuring or reorganization,” he wrote in a statement to CNN.

The employees said in their appeal to the Ghana Director of Labor that Twitter’s formal entry into the mainland began with “great fanfare and with the support of the government.” and now they expect similar attention to their plight.

They are demanding 3 months gross salary as severance pay, repatriation expenses for non-Ghanaian staff, granting of stock options provided in their contracts and other benefits such as continued medical care that were offered to staff all over the world.

CNN has contacted Ghana’s Ministry of Employment and Industrial Relations for comment.

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