A lawsuit brought by one former Twitter exec who stayed on with company following the Fall 2022 purge by new owner Elon Musk, claiming that Musk reneged on a promise of bonuses for all those didn't resign, is moving to trial.
A federal judge ruled Friday that Twitter, now X, could be on the hook for the bonuses that were verbally promised to employees both before and after Musk acquired the company. The promise, which was contingent on staying on at Twitter through the first quarter of 2023, was that workers would receive 50 percent of their targeted 2023 bonuses if they stayed through the transition.
The suit was brought by Mark Schobinger, a former senior director of compensation for Twitter, on behalf of as many as 2,000 current and former X/Twitter employees.
As the New York Times reports, Judge Vince Chhabria of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California issued a three-page ruling before the holiday weekend saying that Schobinger had "plausibly stated a breach of contract claim" under California law.
Schobinger reportedly worked at Twitter through May of 2023, but never received the promised 2022 bonus. The lawsuit was originally filed in June.
"This is a very important decision… which is relevant to claims we have filed on behalf of nearly two thousand Twitter employees," said a lawyer for Schobinger in a statement.
As NBC Bay Area reports, in addition to ruling that the suit should not be thrown out of court, as lawyers for X wanted, Judge Chhabria ruled that the case can move forward in California. X had also apparently argued that the case should be heard in Texas, where Schobinger now lives.
Schobinger's lawsuit is one of a number that Musk and X are facing after a tumultuous — to say the least — year at the social media company. A month before Schobinger filed his lawsuit, a group of six high-level employees who had resigned in late 2022 filed suit against the company claiming they should be owed severance — arguing that they left the company not entirely by choice, but because demands were being made on them by Musk that were potentially illegal, forcing their hand.
Ars Technica has a rundown of all the various lawsuits Musk and the company are dealing with right now, including "dozens" filed by vendors over unpaid bills. One former employee who claims he attempted to go through arbitration to settle his claims with Twitter, as he was contractrually required to do, subsequently sued because, he says, the company has refused to pay their half of the arbitration fee, thus hampering the arbitration process.
All of this legal trouble comes at a potentially perilous moment for the company following the exodus of a number of large advertisers last month in protest of hate speech and Musk's own comments on the platform — and Musk's subsequent declaration that the advertisers can all go fuck themselves.
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