Elon Musk’s company, X (formerly known as Twitter), is facing its first formal complaint from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB alleges that X broke the law by firing an employee who criticized the company’s return-to-work policy. The complaint states that X violated the National Labor Relations Act when it terminated Yao Yue, a principal software engineer, shortly after Musk took over in late October.
According to the NLRB, Yue was fired after she attempted to organize other Twitter workers who were upset about Musk’s sudden change to the company’s work requirements. Musk had sent emails to Twitter employees detailing his expectations, including a statement that any manager falsely claiming that someone reporting to them is doing excellent work would be exited from the company. This directive to return to the office immediately caused concern and outrage among several workers.
Yue expressed her opinions on Twitter and in a company Slack channel, urging her colleagues not to resign and to let Musk fire them instead. Many of her colleagues responded to her messages. In response, Musk directed his management team to scan online posts and Slack to identify who should be fired. Five days later, Yue was fired, with the reason given as a violation of an unspecified company policy.
Yue alleges that she was chosen for layoff in retaliation for her attempt to organize her co-workers. The NLRB accuses X of interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of their rights guaranteed under national labor law.
A hearing on the case is scheduled for January 30 in San Francisco. The NLRB is seeking to make Yue whole for any direct or foreseeable pecuniary harm and provide other consequential damages suffered as a result of X’s unlawful conduct. The board also aims to provide all other relief deemed just and proper to remedy the unfair labor practices alleged.
X, or Twitter, has yet to respond to the allegations. It remains to be seen how the case will unfold and whether there will be any significant repercussions for Musk’s company.