By Daniel Wiessner
(Reuters) – Twitter Inc on Tuesday was hit with the second lawsuit this month to claim that it owes at least $500 million in severance pay to ex-workers, the latest in a series of cases arising from Elon Musk’s acquisition of the social media company.
The proposed class action filed in Delaware federal court by former Twitter senior engineer Chris Woodfield also alleges that the company targeted older workers for layoffs, a claim that has not been made in the other pending cases.
Woodfield, who worked for Twitter out of Seattle, says the company repeatedly told employees that they would receive two months’ salary and other payouts if they were laid off, but that he and other workers have not received the money.
Twitter laid off more than half of its workforce as a cost-cutting measure after Musk acquired the company last October.
Twitter no longer has a media relations department and the company responded to an email seeking comment with an automatic response containing a poop emoji. The company has said in response to other lawsuits that laid-off workers have been paid in full.
A similar lawsuit was filed last week in California federal court claiming Twitter owes ex-employees more than $500 million in severance.
Twitter has not responded to that lawsuit, which claims it violated a federal law regulating employee benefit plans by failing to abide by the terms of a severance plan established before Musk acquired the company.
Woodfield’s lawsuit accuses the company of breach of contract and fraud. Woodfield also claims that Twitter targeted him to be laid off because he is an “older worker,” though the complaint does not state his age.
According to the lawsuit, Woodfield signed an agreement to arbitrate work-related legal disputes that requires Twitter to pay the initial fees to allow individual cases to proceed. He says that he initiated an arbitration against Twitter earlier this year.
But Woodfield claims Twitter has refused to pay the fee in his case, blocking it from going forward. That claim was made by hundreds of ex-employees in a separate case earlier this year. Twitter has said those workers did not submit the necessary paperwork.
Twitter has also been accused in several separate lawsuits of disproportionately laying off women and workers with disabilities, failing to give advance notice of layoffs, and not paying promised bonuses to its remaining employees. The company has denied those claims.
(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi and Deepa Babington)