Judge Orders Twitter to Notify Laid Off Employees of Legal Claims in Severance Packages

On Wednesday, Judge James Donato ruled that defendant Twitter must give laid off employees clear notice of the legal claims pending against it in the federal and California Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Acts case. The decision comes in response to the plaintiffs’ motion for a protective order requiring such notices when Twitter offers former workers severance packages containing legal releases.

The controversy dates to early last month when, after Elon Musk bought out the social media platform, the company laid off a substantial portion of its workforce. Ex-employees filed a class action alleging that the layoffs had to but did not comply with the WARN Acts, which require 60-day written notice to employees prior to mass layoffs. The second amended complaint also stated claims for breach of contract and violations of California employment laws.

Twitter responded to the lawsuit with a motion to arbitrate the plaintiffs’ claims, which the court will hear next month.

In this week’s order, Judge Donato ruled that Twitter must provide notice of this case to employees presented with severance agreements. Calling the scenario “textbook … for providing notice of a pending class action lawsuit,” the court ruled that Twitter did not present a good reason for reaching a contrary conclusion. The defendant neither demonstrated that providing notice would impose an undue burden, nor prejudice it in any way, the opinion said.

Judge Donato directed the parties to file a proposed form of notice by mid-next week, noting that it should be “written in neutral and objective terms that a typical employee would understand.”

The plaintiffs and putative class are represented by Lichten & Liss-Riordan P.C. and Twitter by Morgan Lewis.