A Twitter engineer claimed he was fired days after Elon Musk bought the social media site because he developed a tool that allowed workers to save important documents in anticipation of mass layoffs, according to a lawsuit.
Emmanuel Cornet, a 41-year-old software engineer based in San Francisco, filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board on Monday, claiming the company violated his protected activity right.
“Protected activities” are actions that workers can take without fear of employer retaliation under US labor law.
Cornet was fired on Nov. 1, a few days before Twitter began laying off about half of its 7,500 employees in a cost-cutting bid by Musk, the world’s richest person.
The complaint states that after hearing rumors of mass layoffs, Cornet began designing a Google Chrome Extension that allowed employees to download emails and other personal documents from their company accounts that they may need to claim compensation or challenge their termination.
Cornet posted a link to the software in Twitter’s internal Slack channel on Nov. 1, and was fired later that same day without warning. Twitter then removed the link from the messaging system, according to the complaint.
“Mr. Cornet alleges that Twitter selected him to be one of the first employees let go in its mass layoff, in retaliation for having assisted his fellow employees to help protect themselves in the event that they were laid off,” the complaint reads.
The complaint added that the extensions were designed to help employees save documents such as “statements reflecting their stock in Twitter, performance reviews, and other human resource documents.”
A French national, Cornet joined Twitter in 2021 after a 14-year stint at Google.
Cornet wrote in his personal blog that “the extension does something that anybody can do manually without it,” alongside a detailed account of his ouster.
He later wrote, “A couple of people much smarter than me have suggested that this may be an excuse to fire me over a “troublemaker” vibe coming from me.”
If the labor relations board eventually rules in favor of Cornet’s complaint, it could order Twitter to reinstate him and pay him his salary lost while away from the company.
Cornet had also joined four other Twitter employees in filing a lawsuit in California federal court on Friday accusing the social media company of violating federal and California laws requiring employers to give 60 days’ notice before engaging in mass layoffs.
Musk in a series of tweets on Friday said Twitter workers who were laid off were offered 90 days of severance pay, which could satisfy Twitter’s obligations under the notice laws.
With Post wires