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Former X Corp Workers ask Court not to Dismiss Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

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Former Twitter (now X Corp) workers asked a California federal court not to dismiss their discrimination lawsuit.

San Francisco, CATwo former X Corp. workers in February 2024 implored a California federal court to go ahead with their proposed class action labor lawsuit alleging gender discrimination. The plaintiffs said X's argument that they failed to allege that X exhibited a pattern of practice of discriminatory behavior should be rejected because they now have enough detail, and evidence indicating Musk’s own biases, to survive the company's motion to dismiss.

Strifling and Turkal were included in the 1,200 women who lost their jobs in the November 2022 layoffs, just after Musk purchased Twitter. Both women said their job performance met the company's expectations throughout their employment. Strifling worked for Twitter from June 2015 until November 2022, and Turkal worked there from June 2021 until November 2022. They seek to represent a class of women “across the country” who experienced similar sex bias as well as a class of just California-based female employees.

Strifling et al. v. Twitter Inc.

The lawsuit was filed in December 2022 by former Twitter workers Carolina Bernal Strifling and Willow Wren Turkal, and the women also filed charges with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the California Civil Rights Department. (In its motion to dismiss, X said the women only filed these charges after they hit Twitter with the lawsuit, but the women argued they filed both nearly concurrently. And X argues that the fired Twitter workers claims fail because they didn't allege sufficient details regarding the reasons behind their departures from the company, their job performance and the performance of other employees who kept their jobs.)

The lawsuit includes statistical disparities showing the gender composition of X before and after the reduction in force. Strifling and Turkal said that the massive layoffs have impacted female employees to a significantly greater degree than male workers and his “quickly implemented new policies” is no surprise given his history of misogynistic comments. Those policies that have forced female employees who weren’t laid off to quit include his expectation “that employees would work an unreasonable number of hours” and “be required to work out of physical offices.”

The lawsuit cites an immediate concern that laid off women will be forced to sign away their legal rights as a condition of receiving promised severance. According to Business Insider, the lawsuit says 57% of female workers were laid off, compared to 47% of males. It also cited Musk's "unreasonable" demands Twitter staff work 84-hours a week, and the end of the work from home policy. "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's Biases

Evidence indicating Musk’s biases include past discriminatory comments regarding women – evidence the court should take into account, said the plaintiffs. Musk has a long track record of making "sexist, demeaning and hostile" remarks, posting offensive tweets about women's breasts. For instance, “Misogynistic Musk” still dots the ‘i’s and crosses the ‘t’s – he once blocked the ‘w’ in Twitter and spelled “Titter”. Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer representing the plaintiffs, cited one comment Musk tweeted: “it is more important for women to have babies than careers.”

X argued in its motion to dismiss that Musk's tweets don't reasonably suggest that sex-based animus motivated their terminations, nor did Strifling and Turkal even allege that Musk made the decisions behind the November 2022 layoffs.

Case Dismissed

US District Judge Jon Tigar dismissed the case in May 2023 because the plaintiffs hadn't first attempted to resolve the complaint through federal agencies, adding that the layoffs and long working hours are "two discrete acts insufficient to support the allegation that discriminatory conduct was 'a routine and regular part' of Twitter's workplace." Tigar said the plaintiffs are able to amend and refile their lawsuit. Liss-Riordan said she would refile a new complaint to meet the judge’s requirements. And that was exactly what she did.


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