Elon Musk told Twitter staff in a show of hands Thursday that they must return to the office full-time, or “resignation accepted,” he can be heard saying in audio obtained exclusively by ABC News.
“Let me be crystal clear, if people don’t go back to the office when they can go back to the office — they can’t stay with the company,” Musk is heard in the audio saying to an employee who has asked about his new plans for a 40-hour work week at the company at a general company meeting. “End of the story.”
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Audio clips of the meeting were first obtained by ABC News via an attorney representing former Twitter employees in a lawsuit against the company. ABC News has verified the authenticity of the audio.
“Even if people go back to the office,” a Twitter employee can be heard responding to Musk, “offices are separate offices – we won’t be in person anyway.”
“Yeah,” Musk replies over the audio. “But you can still maximize the amount of in-person activities.” Musk continued throughout the meeting to compare the company to Tesla.
“Tesla isn’t a place either, but you know, it’s basically if you can, if you can show up to an office and you don’t show up to the office, resignation accepted – end of story “, Musk said.
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“There are a lot of people at Tesla and SpaceX working remotely…but it’s on an exceptional basis for exceptional people — and I totally understand if it doesn’t work for some people,” Musk also said. “But that’s the new philosophy of Twitter.”
Twitter began layoffs on Friday that will cut about half of its workforce, the company said in an email, reviewed by ABC News.
The lawsuit alleges that Twitter violated federal and California laws by failing to give staff proper notice before firing. The lawsuit was amended this week to include Twitter’s alleged unfair dismissal offers.
Twitter did not respond to the lawsuit.
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The attorney representing former Twitter employees in the class action lawsuit, Shannon Liss-Riordan, said she plans to use Musk’s words against him.
“The audio makes it clear that Musk’s elimination of remote work, without notice, is an effort to pretend employees quit when in fact they were kicked out, so the company can try to avoid obligations under the WARN Act and promises regarding severance pay,” Liss-Riordan told ABC News. “This ridiculous new decision is just one of the schemes Musk has devised to try to avoid paying terminated employees their due.”
Musk has implemented the same return-to-work policy at Tesla and SpaceX.
Musk reached an agreement to acquire Twitter in late October. Some of Twitter’s top executives have been fired, including CEO Parag Agrawal, CFO Ned Segal, General Counsel Vijaya Gadde and General Counsel Sam Edgett.
ABC News contacted Twitter.
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