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Elon Musk faces criticism over laying off disabled employee



Twitter owner Elon Musk had a disagreement on the platform with a man who seemed unsure as to whether he was still hired by Twitter.

Haraldur Thorleifsson, whose bio says he “led an innovation team” at Twitter, reached out to Musk on Twitter to say that his access to Twitter systems had been cut over for over a week and no-one at Twitter HR department was able to confirm if he was still employed by Twitter.

“You’ve not answered my emails. Maybe if enough people retweet you’ll answer me here?” Thorleifsson Tweeted.

Musk responded by asking, “What work have you been doing?”

Thorleifsson initially requested that Musk’s lawyers provide permission for him to do so.


Musk replied by saying “It’s approved, you go ahead.” 

Thorleifsson then listed a number of tasks he said he performed at Twotter, including that he “led design crits to help level up design across the company.”

“Level up from what design to what? Pics or it didn’t happen,” Musk said. Thorleifsson countered this by saying that his work laptop was locked, preventing him access to “any pics or docs.”

“Would you say that you’re a people person?” Musk wrote, sharing a video clip from the movie “Office Space” in which an employee is asked “What would you say you do here?”

Musk later replied to a separate thread discussing the spat by saying that Thorleifsson “did no actual work” during his time with Twitter.


 “The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm. Can’t say I have a lot of respect for that,” Musk said.

Thorliefsson explained that he has been wheelchair bound for the last 20 years due to muscular dystrophy.

“I’m not able to do manual work (which in this case means typing or using a mouse) for extended periods of time without my hands starting to cramp… I can however write for an hour or two at a time,” Thorliefsson said. “This wasn’t a problem in Twitter 1.0 since I was a senior director and my job was mostly to help teams move forward, give them strategic and tactical guidance.”

Thorliefsson said in a later tweet that he did eventually receive confirmation that his employment had been terminated.

“To be clear. You have every right to lay me off. That’s totally fair and fine. But usually people are told when that happens,” he said to Musk. “Maybe with a letter or something. Which didn’t happen for 9 days despite multiple emails to you and others.”

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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