Elon Musk publicly mocks disabled Twitter worker who isn’t sure if he was fired | CNN Business
Elon Musk publicly mocked a Twitter employee’s uncertainty about whether he had been fired in a recent round of layoffs and spoke disparagingly of the of the employee disability in a series of tweets Monday night. It’s the latest example of the billionaire openly antagonizing current and former employees of his company.
Haraldur Thorleifsson, a senior Twitter manager based in Iceland, tweeted to Musk that access to his computer had been cut off nine days earlier, when Twitter laid off about 200 employees. But, Thorleifsson said in his tweet, “your head of HR cannot confirm whether I am an employee or not.”
Musk responded in a tweet asking, “What work have you been doing?” When Thorleifsson provided a list of his tasks in response, Musk seemed to question several points. “Photos or it didn’t happen,” he tweeted. In a separate tweet, the billionaire said Thorleifsson “didn’t do any real work, claimed as an excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from writing.”
Thorleifsson clarified in a tweet that he has muscular dystrophy, a degenerative disease that he says put him in a wheelchair more than 20 years ago. Thorleifsson, who founded a digital branding company acquired by Twitter in 2021, has been recognized by the United Nations and the president of Iceland for spearheading a charity effort to build 1,000 wheelchair ramps around Reykjavík to increase the accessibility of the city.
“I’m not able to do manual work (which in this case means typing or using a mouse) for extended periods of time without my hands starting to cramp,” she said. “However, I can write for an hour or two at a time. This was not a problem in Twitter 1.0, as I was a senior manager and my job was mainly to help the teams move forward, to give them strategic and tactical advice “.
Thorleifsson did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment. Twitter, which has cut much of its public relations department, also did not respond.
It’s not the first time Musk, one of the world’s richest men, has publicly mocked employees at Twitter, the company he bought for $44 billion last year. He has clashed on the platform with former Twitter executives, fired employees who criticized him and, in one case, publicly called out a former employee’s tweets about him as the result of “a tragic case of Adult-onset Tourette’s.”
The spectacular spectacle of a company owner publicly mocking an employee highlights the unique corporate circus that Twitter workers have experienced over the past year. Musk threatened to bail on the deal and then completed the acquisition only to continue with several rounds of layoffs. Hundreds of former Twitter employees are taking legal action against the company, alleging broken termination promises and, in some cases, discrimination, including against employees with disabilities.
In the meantime, the platform seems to be struggling to stay online. On Monday, Twitter experienced one of its biggest outages since Musk’s acquisition, with many users completely unable to access the site and others having trouble clicking links or viewing photos for about an hour. It was the third major technical problem Twitter has faced in less than a month, as Musk has reduced the workforce from about 7,500 workers before his takeover to fewer than 2,000 and made a series of other efforts to reduce costs.
After the exchange with Musk, Thorleifsson said in a tweet that Twitter’s head of human resources had confirmed that he no longer worked for the company.
“Which is totally fine and happens all the time… Usually they tell people about it, but now it seems like that’s the optional part of Twitter,” he said. “But the next thing is to find out if Twitter is going to pay me what I’m owed under my contract.”