SF opens Twitter investigation after ex-workers sue Elon Musk

San Francisco officials are opening a new investigation targeting Twitter’s Mid-Market headquarters after an explosive lawsuit by former senior employees alleged a series of instances in which members of owner Elon Musk’s team knowingly broke local and federal laws.

The six former employees say Twitter did not pay promised severance pay and that Musk’s team instructed staff to disable lights and install locks that would not open during an emergency in employee bedrooms at 1355 Market St., in violation of building codes.

“Twitter’s new leadership knowingly, specifically and repeatedly announced their intentions to breach contracts, violate laws and otherwise ignore their legal obligations,”[ads1]; the six former employees alleged in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Delaware federal court.

The suit names Twitter’s successor company X Corp. and Musk as defendants. Twitter, which laid off its communications team, automatically responded to an email request for comment with a poop emoji.

“We will open a new complaint and conduct an investigation into these new allegations,” Patrick Hannan, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Building Inspection, told The Chronicle.

Plaintiff Joseph Killian, the former Twitter senior project manager for global design and construction, described Musk’s team as allegedly asking him to violate building codes as part of creating spaces for tired employees to sleep in.

In addition to installing beds, Killian said he was asked to turn off motion-sensitive lights because they disturbed people trying to sleep, despite Twitter’s landlord denying that request. He said he hired an electrician to do it, allegedly in violation of both building codes and Twitter’s lease.

Killian also said he was told to install heaters, break the lease and install door locks that “did not comply with life safety and exit codes” because they would not automatically unlock in the event of a fire or earthquake.

Killian said that doing so would block “first responders from being able to access the rooms” in an emergency, but that Musk’s team wanted cheaper locks that don’t automatically unlock.

“No one cared,” the lawsuit said. “Killian quit that day.” The lawsuit alleges that non-compliant locks were later installed by someone else.

Killian said he was asked not to detail those planned changes when city inspectors visited the building in December.

“When the city inspectors came to inspect the hotel rooms, they expressed surprise and relief to Killian, saying, ‘This is just furniture! We expected more drastic changes,” according to the lawsuit.

The city previously ruled that Twitter needed to update a building permit to come into compliance and provide room for workers to sleep in. But six months after the bedroom survey began, the permit has not been approved.

The five other plaintiffs include Wolfram Arnold, a former staff software engineer; Erik Froese, former senior manager of software engineering; Tracy Hawkins, who led Twitter’s real estate division; Laura Chan Pytlarz, former global strategy leader for food and events; and Andrew Schlaikjer, former senior machine learning engineer. They could not immediately be reached for comment.

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