Twitter playing 'stupid game' to stall ex-workers' legal claims: lawyer

FILE PHOTO: The logo for Twitter is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., June 1, 2022. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid//File Photo

(Reuters) - Twitter Inc is refusing to arbitrate legal claims by hundreds of ex-employees who cannot produce copies of employment contracts they signed, after the company successfully moved to have their class action claims sent to arbitration, according to a court filing.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer for more than 1,000 people who were laid off or fired by Twitter last year, said she could be forced to bring hundreds of claims into court just to have Twitter produce copies of the agreements when it moves to send them to arbitration.

Liss-Riordan and Twitter made a joint filing in San Francisco federal court on Thursday to update the court ahead of a hearing scheduled for Feb. 9.

The workers claim Twitter refused to pay promised severance or give them the advance notice of mass layoffs required by law, which the company denies.

A federal judge last month said several of the class action plaintiffs were required to arbitrate their claims. Others did not sign arbitration agreements, so the case has remained in court.

In an interview on Friday, Liss-Riordan said Twitter is likely trying to delay the arbitration cases in hopes that some workers drop their claims.

“This is just a stupid game that Twitter is trying to play,” she said. “No one is giving up.”

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment. In Thursday's filing, the company's lawyers accused Liss-Riordan of attempting to shortcut the arbitration process by not producing all of the agreements.

"It appears obvious that Plaintiffs’ counsel rushed to submit more than 1,000 incomplete and insufficient demands for arbitration for the sole purpose of leveraging large initial case management fees against Twitter," they wrote.

The company also said it was not obligated to give workers any severance and the pay it did give to departing employees "was generous based on Twitter’s financial circumstances."

So-called "mass arbitrations," where hundreds or thousands of people file similar individual claims, can cost companies millions of dollars in fees alone. Plaintiffs' lawyers have increasingly used the tactic to push back against companies that require employees or customers to sign arbitration agreements.

Liss-Riordan has filed three other lawsuits against Twitter stemming from the layoffs, including claims that the company targeted female employees and forced out workers with disabilities. The company has moved to dismiss those claims.

The case is Cornet v. Twitter Inc, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. 3:22-cv-06857.

For the plaintiffs: Shannon Liss-Riordan of Lichten & Liss-Riordan.

For Twitter: Brian Berry of Morgan Lewis & Bockius.

(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York, Editing by Alexia Garamfalvi)

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