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Former Twitter employees file class-action lawsuit, alleging company targeted women in layoffs

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Two female former Twitter employees have filed a class action lawsuit against the company, alleging that layoffs that happened following Elon Musk’s acquisition disproportionately targeted women. 

Carolina Strifling and Willow Turkal filed their complaint on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of San Francisco on behalf of themselves and other female employees who have lost their jobs in the “chaotic weeks” since Musk took over Twitter at the end of October. 

Musk moved to lay off half of Twitter’s workforce, equivalent to about 3,700 employees, shortly after his purchase of the company was completed to cut costs. 

“The mass termination of employees at Twitter has impacted female employees to a much greater extent than male employees – and to a highly statistically significant degree,” the two women said in their filing. 

Strifling is from Miami, Fla., and worked at Twitter since June 2015, while Turkal is from San Jose, Calif., and worked at Twitter since June 2021. Both were laid off last month. 

The plaintiffs argue that the decision-making around which employees would be laid off was made under “extremely hurried circumstances” with little regard given to employees’ job performance, qualifications, experience and abilities. 

They said the decisions were reportedly made by a small group of managers working under Musk’s supervision, and some of the managers were brought in from outside companies owned by Musk like Tesla. 

Strifling and Turkal said that 1,271 female employees and 1,350 male employees were laid off, equaling 57 percent of all female employees and 47 percent of all male employees. They cited an economics professor from Rutgers University who said the distribution by sex was more than seven standard deviations away from a normal distribution, meaning it is unlikely that the difference is due to random chance. 

They also argued that Musk’s comments saying that he wanted to prioritize keeping employees who were in engineering-related roles cannot explain the disparity. They said 63 percent of female employees in these roles were laid off, while only 48 percent of men in these roles were. 

Strifling and Turkal also pointed to comments Musk has made that they say show discriminatory feelings toward women. They mentioned comments he has made joking about women’s breasts and saying that “testosterone rocks.” 

They argue that Twitter’s actions violate sex discrimination protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. 

The Hill has reached out to Twitter for comment.

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