Resentment is building up among the laid-off staff members at Twitter’s lone office in Africa amid suspicions that how the employees’ jobs were terminated may have violated local labor laws, according to a new report.
Some workers in Twitter’s office in Ghana said they feel “insulted, discriminated against” and “disrespected” at the way they were abruptly laid off last week, CNN international correspondent Larry Madowo reported.
This latest update comes on the heels of a previous report that the employees who were laid off in Africa were not offered a severance package unlike their newly jobless counterparts elsewhere around the world.
The company-wide layoffs are part of new owner Elon Musk’s reorganization efforts for the social media app he recently purchased for $44 billion.
Because Musk — the richest man in the world with a net worth of nearly $200 billion — is African-born like the laid-off staff, those employees believed that they would be treated with much more respect and grace than they’ve been shown, Madowo added. He said some of the laid-off workers haven’t even heard from their managers.
“They are consulting with employment lawyers in Ghana,” Madowo reported.
Fewer than 20 people were laid off from the office in Ghana’s capital city of Accra.
The office had only physically opened to employees on Nov. 1 after staff had worked remotely around the continent for about a year. Four days later, on Friday, they arrived at the office to find themselves locked out of their corporate email accounts. Their company laptops were also deactivated. They were finally told of their layoffs by emails sent to their personal accounts.
The mass email notification differed from the reports that Twitter offered its laid-off staff in the U.S. at least three months’ severance pay. The employees in Ghana were told their final paycheck would be on Dec. 4, exactly one month from the date they were notified of layoffs. It’s unclear if that is meant to serve as severance pay since the lone email notification of layoffs never made a reference to compensation.
Twitter has directed the laid-off employees to “remain available” if they’re needed to assist with a “handover.”
Madowo reported that many of the employees in the Ghana office moved there from other parts of Africa and now find themselves with neither gainful employment nor severance pay.
Previously, Musk suggested on Twitter that he was being generous with the severance packages he was giving to all laid-off Twitter employees.
“Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required,” Musk tweeted on Friday, the same day the employees in Ghana learned their jobs had been terminated.
Laid-off Twitter employees in India were given two months’ severance pay, according to CNBC.
A lawyer sued Twitter for failing to give at least 60 days notice of layoffs as is required legally in the U.S.
“Twitter is now engaged in conducting mass layoffs without providing the required notice under the federal WARN Act,” the lawsuit says about the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, a labor law that “helps ensure advance notice in cases of qualified plant closings and mass layoffs.”
The news about the Twitter layoffs in Africa came on the heels of a report that hate speech and anti-Black commentary had soared exponentially since Musk took over the app late last month. Previous ownership heavily moderated such content.
That surge in the use of the N-word and other racist epithets on Twitter has promoted a growing number of brands to stop advertising on the app as racist trolls appear to be emboldened by Musk’s $44 billion purchase.
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