Twitter faced with legal complaints after firings, Salesforce CEO muddles work-from-home policy on Slack

Plus, the rise of the remote whistleblower. 

Greetings comms pros! Let’s take a look at a few stories from last week and see what lessons we can learn from them.

1. Twitter  hit with dozens of legal complaints by ex-employees 

Another week, another headline about Twitter. More than 100 former employees of Twitter have filed complaints surrounding how Elon Musk’s takeover of the company was handled. 

Reuters reports: 

Twitter Inc on Tuesday was accused by 100 former employees of various legal violations stemming from Elon Musk’s takeover of the company, including targeting women for layoffs and failing to pay promised severance.

Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer for the workers, said she had filed 100 demands for arbitration against Twitter that make similar claims to four class action lawsuits pending in California federal court.

The workers all signed agreements to bring legal disputes against the company in arbitration rather than court, Liss-Riordan said, which means they will likely be barred from participating in the class actions.

Twitter laid off roughly 3,700 employees in early November in a cost-cutting measure by Musk, who paid $44 billion to acquire the social media platform, and hundreds more subsequently resigned.

It seems like every week, we’ve got more to report on Twitter. Aside from the well-covered chaos that’s been occurring on the platform for weeks, the workplace policies and actions under Musk’s tenure are concerning to say the least— and is just the latest reason why he’s actively looking for a new CEO. 

For a company whose CEO makes headlines daily , Musk’s continued failure to do right by employees should be a lesson to all: Do right by those who work for you, for if you don’t, it’ll reflect poorly. 

2. Benioff’s reported Slack statement muddles message about Salesforce’s view of WFH 

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was caught in an awkward situation after allegedly sending a Slack message questioning the productivity of newer employees, particularly those that work from home. 

TechCrunch reports: 

Here’s partially what he said, according to the report: “New employees (hired during the pandemic in 2021 & 2022) are especially facing much lower productivity. Is this a reflection of our office policy? Are we not building tribal knowledge with new employees without an office culture?”

It’s a pretty odd position for a guy whose company spent $27 billion for Slack two years ago, precisely because it allows easy communication among employees regardless of where they are.

Work-from-home situations are here to stay, and it’s important that employers know that. In addition, a good leader will know what type of work situations help their company thrive, regardless of location. This statement from Benioff comes off as strange, seeing as he’s the head of an app that helps keep remote employees in touch with one another.  

No matter the location, it’s important to allow employees to thrive in whatever environment is best for them. What’s more, when that philosophy is at the core of your business ecosystem, it’s important to ensure that the messages your leaders send don’t contradict your corporate purpose — whether in a town hall or a DM.    


3. The age of the work-from-home whistleblower 

The trend of remote work may have sparked a slew of employees to call out their employers for poor business practices. 

Insider reports: 

As the pandemic spread and workers retreated to their makeshift home offices, employees began to reconsider their relationship with work. The space between employer and employee helped many people come to terms with the malfeasance happening at their companies and, eventually, report it. MacGann, the Uber whistleblower, told Politico that it wasn’t until the pandemic that he “had time on his hands” to really ponder his decision to come forward about the ride-hailing company’s treatment of workers.

Mary Inman, a partner at Constantine Cannon who has been representing whistleblowers for 25 years, told me that virtual work has likely encouraged whistleblowing, because employees haven’t developed the same loyalty to their employers as they would in person. “The risks seem farther off when you’re in a remote environment,” she said. And as workers around the country have reconsidered their jobs and quit in droves, allegiances have shifted. “All that navel-gazing led to people being more willing to undertake the risk that is inherent in blowing the whistle,” said Inman.

While the story goes without saying that employees should notify employers about any perceived malfeasance at work, it’s interesting to see that the distance that work-from-home situations provided employees gave many the confidence to come forward.  

With 2023 on the horizon, it will be worth watching whether this trend continues or intensifies in the new year. 

4. How about some good news?

  • Ragan Training is great for communications pros to find inspiration and resources. 
  • You should be rewarded for your work. Find out how to earn an award here! 

Have a great weekend and have a happy holiday season, comms all-stars! 

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night. 

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