Muhammed Selim Korkutata/Getty Images
- After two months of waiting, laid off Twitter employees got severance agreements from Elon Musk.
- The process for accessing the agreements was so odd, many workers fear a phishing attempt.
- Although the agreements are said to be legitimate, some affected workers say they will not sign.
Hundreds of Twitter employees who were part of Elon Musk‘s first round of layoffs just got severance paperwork after waiting for two months. Now they must decide whether to sign or join lawsuits against the company and its billionaire owner.
In the early hours of Saturday, the former Twitter employees laid off on Nov. 4 received a message from “email@example.com,” an email not associated with any internal department at the company, several people familiar with the situation told Insider.
The email was designated as “spam” for most people who received it. After digging it out of spam folders, the message directed people to a website operated by CPT Group for access to the full separation agreement.
“As you know, we’ve had to reduce our global workforce to ensure the company’s success moving forward, and your employment has been impacted,” the website stated. “Since we notified you of your status, you’ve remained in non-working notice, employed and on payroll, and this will continue through your separation date. You are also eligible to receive additional severance if you sign a separation agreement and release.”
‘Imagine waiting so long and then getting this’
Even before laid off workers received their agreements, many were discussing whether or not to sign away their rights in return for one month of severance. By comparison, laid off workers at Facebook received six months of severance when that company enacted mass layoffs in November. Snap offered its workers four months of severance in its late August layoffs.
One person who received an agreement said they’d decided not to sign, and instead will participate in one of the several lawsuits already filed or in the works related to Musk’s alleged violations of the merger agreement regarding employee benefits and severance. Scores of other affected employees have already signed on to participate in legal actions. The person noted that, had the agreements come sooner, perhaps they and other people would have been more inclined to sign.
“Imagine waiting so long and then getting this,” the person said. This person, and others who spoke with Insider, asked not to be identified discussing private matters. A representative of Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
‘This is sketchy AF’
Everything from the text spacing of the email to it redirecting to a website no one was familiar with put former employees on guard. “This is sketchy AF,” one person wrote in a message. Another person noted that the long wait for severance paperwork has left many people “prime targets” for phishing attempts.
Still, two people familiar with Twitter’s actions said the site is legitimate and noted that this will be the way all severance or separation agreements will be distributed by Twitter. The website also uses Twitter’s official blue and white bird logo and the official separation agreements are said to show Musk’s signature.
Workers who were either laid off or resigned around November 4 are expecting to receive separation agreements, two people familiar with the company said. However, those who resigned a few weeks later over Musk’s “hardcore Twitter 2.0” email have not received an agreement to sign so far, the sources said.
As for the separation agreements, they appear to be mostly boilerplate, offering one month of pay to laid off employees as severance. On November 4, Musk tweeted that “everyone exited” was offered 3 months of severance, saying that was 50% more than legally required. The tech billionaire may have been conflating periods of “non-working” employment that later saw thousands of workers continue to be paid since November, while they waited for severance. State labor laws require companies to give certain notice periods for mass layoffs.
In order to receive the one month of additional pay, laid off workers must sign the contract being offered, which prohibits them from participating in any lawsuit against the company, or speaking publicly or to the press about Twitter. Such clauses are typical for severance agreements.
Are you a tech employee or someone else with insight to share? Contact Kali Hays at firstname.lastname@example.org, on secure messaging app Signal at 949-280-0267, or through Twitter DM at @hayskali. Reach out using a non-work device.