Twitter Sued by Disabled Employee for Banning Elon Musk’s Remote Work

Twitter owner Elon Musk’s mandate that employees stop working remotely and put in “long, intense hours” discriminates against disabled workers, a new lawsuit claims.

Dmitry Borodaenko, a California-based engineering manager who said Twitter fired him this week when he refused to go to the office, filed a proposed lawsuit against the company in San Francisco federal court on Wednesday.

Borodaenko said Musk’s recent call for Twitter workers to return to the office or quit violates the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities.

Borodaenko has a disability that makes him vulnerable to COVID-19, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit said that many Twitter employees with disabilities were forced to resign because they could not meet Musk’s demands for work and productivity.

In another complaint filed in the same court on Wednesday, Twitter is accused of laying off thousands of contract workers without giving the 60-day notice required by federal law.

Twitter is already facing a proposed class action, also in San Francisco federal court, alleging it violated that law by abruptly laying off about 3,700 workers, or half of the company’s workforce, after Musk took over.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. Musk said the laid-off workers were given three months’ severance pay.

Under federal law, employers can offer employees 60 days of severance pay in lieu of giving notice.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, an attorney for the plaintiffs in all three pending lawsuits, said that since taking over at Twitter, Musk has “put the company’s employees through a lot of pain and uncertainty in such a short period of time.”

There is little legal precedent for when remote work qualifies as a reasonable accommodation under the ADA, and the question ultimately turns on the facts of individual cases. As a result, claims of disability bias can be difficult to bring in a class action lawsuit.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which enforces the ADA, said in guidance issued in 2020 that remote work can be a reasonable accommodation where it does not create an undue burden on the employer.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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