Twitter employees in Ghana accuse Elon Musk of discrimination after they were sacked but not given same severance pay as Americans or Europeans

Employees who were recently laid off at the Twitter office in Africa claim that the company “deliberately and recklessly flouted the laws of Ghana” and tried to “silence and intimidate” them after they were let go.

The group of Ghanaian workers have engaged a lawyer and written a letter to the firm requesting that it adhere to the labor rules of the West African country, give them more severance, and offer them other perks consistent with those that other Twitter employees will receive.

The employees requested that Twitter “adhere to the rules of Ghana on redundancy and grant the employees a fair and just negotiation and redundancy pay” in a letter to Ghana’s Chief Labour Officer.

Twitter laid off all but one of the African employees just four days after the company opened a physical office in the capital Accra following Musk’s takeover.

But the staff of about a dozen people were not offered severance pay, which they say is required by Ghana’s labor laws, based on their employment contracts.

They also claim they were not informed about the next steps in the company unlike employees in the United States and Europe.

In the letter to Twitter Ghana Ltd, the African employees rejected a “Ghana Mutual Separation Agreement” from Twitter, which they say was sent to their personal emails offering final pay that the company claims to have been arrived at after a negotiation.

Several members of the team in a statement to CNN said there was no such negotiation on severance pay.

They claim it was below what is required by law and contradicts what Musk tweeted that departing employees would receive.

“Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50% more than legally required,” Musk tweeted. Twitter informed the Ghana-based employees in early November that they would be paid until their last day of employment — December 4. And they will continue to receive full pay and benefits during the 30-day notice period.

“It was very vague, did not talk about outstanding leave or paid time off, and just asked us to sign if we agree. I never bothered to go back to the document because it is rubbish and is still in violation of labor laws here,” one former employee told CNN on condition of anonymity.

The Accra-based team accuses Twitter of dealing with them in bad faith, not being transparent, and discriminating against them compared to laid-off employees in other jurisdictions.

“The employees are distressed, humiliated, and intimidated by this turn of events. There are non-Ghanaian employees, some with young families, who moved here to take up jobs and have now been left unceremoniously in the lurch, with no provision for repatriation expenses and no way to communicate with Twitter, Inc. and discuss or plead their case,” the notice to Ghana’s Chief Labour Officer says.

The laid off workers attorney, Carla Olympio, says the sudden termination of almost the whole team violated Ghanaian employment law because it is considered a “redundancy” which requires three-month notice to authorities and a negotiation on redundancy pay.

“In stark contrast to internal company assurances given to Twitter employees worldwide prior to the takeover, it seems that little attempt was made to comply with Ghana’s labor laws, and the protections enshrined therein for workers in circumstances where companies are undertaking mass layoffs due to a restructuring or reorganization,” 

The laid off staff are demanding 3 months’ gross salary as severance pay, repatriation expenses for non-Ghanaian staff, vesting of stock options provided in their contracts, and other benefits such as healthcare continuation that were offered to staff worldwide.

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