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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Tim Healy

Senior Irish Twitter executive secures injunction preventing social media giant from terminating employment

Sinead McSweeney Photo: Gerry Mooney

An Irish-based senior executive with Twitter has secured a temporary High Court injunction preventing the social networking giant from terminating her employment.

The order was secured by Sinead McSweeney, who is Twitter's global vice-president for public policy.

She claims that by not responding to a generic and vague e-mail sent to all of Twitter employees by its billionare owner Elon Musk earlier this month, she has been treated as if she is no longer employed by the company.

She claims that while the company informed her that she had accepted an exit package, Ms McSweeneny says she did not resign.

She has been locked out of Twitter's Dublin office and its internal IT systems, including her company email account.

The court was told that solicitors' letters on her behalf were sent to Twitter's lawyers who acknowledged to her that she had no intention to resign, confirmed her commitment to her work "had never been questioned", and said her access to the IT systems would be restored.

Ms McSweeney, however, says that while that communication was welcome, she is concerned about her job because of the "mixed messages" she had been getting from both Mr Musk himself and his senior US-based associates since the company was taken over..

She claims that, despite her contractual entitlements, the defendant cannot be trusted.

Mr Musk, she claims, has since the takeover has been running the company "in an unorthodox manner" and has been rehiring and firing "with no apparent logic" in a manner she claims is unlawful.

On Friday, Mr Justice Brian O'Moore granted Ms McSweeney an interim injunction, following a one side represented only application, preventing Twitter International Unlimited Company from terminating her contract of employment,

The injunction restrains Twitter from applying the terms of an email, sent to her on November 16 last by Elon Musk, to her contract or condition of employment,

The judge said he was not satisfied at this stage of the proceedings to make an order directing Twitter to reinstate her.

In a sworn statement, Ms McSweeney said that since Twitter's takeover her workload had significantly increased to more than 75 hours a week because many Twitter employees had been summarily dismissed.

Ms McSweeney said she is a widow and the mother of a teenage son.

She said in her statement that she had held discussions with Mr Musk himself and some of his senior associates about the company's future and, in particular about cost reduction, cutting staff in her section as well as elsewhere in the company.

She said while cuts were sought in her area of responsibility, she had a phone conversation with Elon Musk on November 13 where she claims he said that any excellent staff who had been let go should be reinstated.

She said he added that the criteria for reinstatement was "that the individual was excellent, performing a critical role" and was "not negative".

She was "temporarily reassured" by what Mr Musk said but said two days later she was informed by an email on behalf of an associate of Mr Musk that a decision had been taken to reduce the size of the Twitter public policy team by 20pc.

In the email sent by Mr Musk on November 16, the billionaire said: "Going forward, to build a breakthrough Twitter 2.0 and succeed in an increasing competitive world we will need to be extremely hardcore.

“This will mean working long hours at high intensity. Only exceptional performance will constitute a passing grade."

The email asked employees that if "you are sure that you want to be part of the new Twitter please click yes on the link provided."

"Anyone who had not done so" by November 17 would get “three months of severance”.

“Whatever decision you make, thank you for your efforts to make Twitter successful," the message concluded.

She claims that, arising out of the email, she and other employees were offered "exit packages" based on the location in which they were based.

Due to the lack of clarity over several issues concerning her contract of employment, which were of concern to her and other workers, Ms McSweeney said she did not click "Yes".

She said the exit package did not meet her contractual entitlements, and for those who wished to remain with Twitter the terms and conditions in relation to what Mr Musk expected of them was not set out in the document.

The matter will return before the courts next week.

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