Disabled Twitter employees resigned because they felt they couldn't keep up with Elon Musk's 'hardcore' drive, discrimination lawsuit says

The Twitter logo is seen on a mobile device in ths illustration photo in Warsaw, Poland on 30 October, 2022. Twitter is losing its most active users according to research done by Reuters. Despite the most impactful tweeters making up only 10 percent of the monthly users they are together responsible for 90 percent of all tweets and around half of the company's revenue.
The lawsuit alleges that an engineering manager was fired after he requested to work from home because he was at extra risk from COVID-19.Getty Images
  • A discrimination lawsuit against Twitter said its disabled employees were forced to resign.

  • It said the staff felt that their disabilities would keep them from meeting Elon Musk's new demands.

  • It was filed on behalf of a cancer survivor who said he was fired after asking to work from home.

A former Twitter employee is suing the company, alleging that Elon Musk's new work demands forced disabled workers to resign.

The class action lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the San Francisco federal court, highlighted how Musk told Twitter employees this week that they would have to "work long hours at high intensity" and "be extremely hardcore."

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Dmitry Borodaenko, an engineer laid off earlier this month. He accused Twitter of breaking state and federal discrimination laws. Borodaenko said he is a cancer survivor and was fired after telling his manager he preferred to work from home because he was at "extra risk" from COVID-19, per the lawsuit.

"Many disabled employees who have, and would continue to, perform their jobs effectively have felt that, because of their disability, they will not be able to meet this new heightened standard of performance and productivity," said the lawsuit, seen by Insider.

"Thus, many disabled employees have felt forced to resign," it added.

The lawsuit also said employees were told: "The expectation is literally to work 24/7 to get this out." The directive was from internal messages sent to teams working on Twitter Blue, Insider's Kali Hays first reported.

Borodaenko, who was hired in June 2021, said his workload "vastly increased" after Twitter conducted initial rounds of mass layoffs, according to his lawsuit. "As a manager, the number of employees assigned to report to him increased from about 10 to 16," the lawsuit said.

The suit argued that workers like Borodaenko were still able to perform their jobs effectively, but that Musk's ultimatum for overtime culture and ending remote work "does not allow for employees who require reasonable accommodation for their disabilities."

"Elon Musk's behavior since he took over Twitter a couple of weeks ago has been nothing short of appalling. I have never seen anything like this in my nearly quarter century representing workers," Borodaenko's attorney, Shannon Liss-Riordan, said in a statement to Insider.

"Elon Musk's statements and actions only serve to deter people with disabilities, many of whom will feel no choice but to resign today in response to his ultimatum," she added.

Liss-Riordan this month also filed lawsuits against Twitter on behalf of other former employees. In these lawsuits, the employees said they weren't given proper notice of job cuts and that they were not provided with severance packages.

Musk's new "hardcore" work mandate did not sit well with many employees at Twitter. Less than half of the company's remaining estimated 4,000 employees chose to remain in the company on Thursday, after Musk outlined his "hardcore" vision, Insider reported.

The social media giant shut down its offices temporarily on Thursday amid the exodus, and is expected to reopen its buildings Monday. A current employee said the move was to "prevent physical sabotage while they sort out access revocations," according to a Slack message seen by Insider's Kali Hays and Kelsey Vlamis.

Musk and his personal attorney, Alex Spiro, did not immediately respond to Insider's requests for comment.

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