Laid-off Twitter Africa team ‘joked’ without severance or benefits, former employees say

Nairobi, Kenya

Former Twitter Africa employees who were laid off as part of a global cost-cutting measure following Elon Musk’s acquisition have not received any severance pay more than seven months since they left the company, multiple sources told CNN.

In late May, the former employees, who were based in the Ghanaian capital Accra, accepted Twitter’s ( TWTR ) offer to pay them three months’ severance pay, the costs of repatriating overseas staff and legal fees incurred during negotiations with the company, but they have did not receive the money or further communication, the sources said.

“They literally ghosted us,” a former Twitter Africa employee told CNN.

“While Twitter has gradually resettled former employees elsewhere, employees in Africa have remained in the lurch despite our eventual acceptance of specific negotiated terms.”

The former employees say they reluctantly accepted the severance package without benefits, even though it was less than what colleagues elsewhere received.

“Twitter didn’t respond until we agreed to the three months because we were all so stressed and exhausted and tired of the uncertainty, reluctant to take on the extra burden of a lawsuit, so we felt we had no choice but to take a settlement,” another former employee told CNN.

The former employees spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity because they said they were asked to sign nondisclosure agreements as part of their exit terms.

According to Carla Olympio, a lawyer representing the former employees, the last communication from Twitter or its lawyers was in May, shortly after the settlement was agreed.

CNN reached out to Twitter for comment on the status of the severance package for the former Ghana office staff, but received an automated response — a poop emoji. It is unclear whether Twitter still has a media department.

In March, Musk tweeted that Twitter would respond to all press inquiries with the poo emoji. He completed a deal to buy the social media platform in October.

CNN also asked Ghana’s Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations for comment. A spokesperson said they are investigating the allegations.

Whether the Ghanaian authorities can force Twitter to comply with the settlement is uncertain. The former employees and their lawyer say the offer was never finalized.

A dozen team members were laid off just four days after the social network opened a physical office in Accra last November.

Some of them said they had moved to Ghana from other African nations and depended on their jobs on Twitter to support their legal status in the country.

“Unfortunately, it appears that after implementing the dismissals unethically against their own promises and the laws of Ghana, and after dragging out the negotiation process for over half a year, now that we have come to a near settlement, it has been completely silence from them for weeks,” Olympio said.

Twitter and Musk are facing several lawsuits in which plaintiffs claim the company has failed to pay former employees what they owe.

Last week, a former US employee filed a proposed class-action lawsuit, claiming the company did not pay the full amount of severance it promised last November before mass layoffs.

The plaintiff said Twitter promised senior employees severance pay of six months’ base salary plus one week for each year of service, in addition to other benefits. Instead, the plaintiffs said they received a total of three months’ pay, according to the lawsuit. In response to a request for comment on the lawsuit, Twitter sent CNN an automated poop emoji.

David Odisho/Getty Images

Twitter headquarters seen in November 2022 in San Francisco, California.

In April, Musk told the BBC that more than 6,000 people had been laid off since he completed the acquisition of the company in late October.

“We are exploring our options with respect to causes of action against Twitter in various jurisdictions, including Ghana,” Olympio told CNN.

Twitter did not open negotiations with the African team until after CNN reported in November that they had been offered separation terms that differed from those offered to departing employees in Europe and North America.

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