Twitter has asked a federal judge in California to toss out a proposed class action claiming the mandate by CEO Elon Musk that employees return to the office and put in "long hours at high intensity" discriminates against workers with disabilities.
Twitter's lawyers late Wednesday (Dec 21) filed a motion to dismiss the November lawsuit, saying the plaintiffs had not alleged that any of the company's actions were targeted at people with disabilities or had a disproportionate impact on them.
Twitter laid off about 3,700 employees in early November in a cost-cutting measure by Musk, who acquired the company for US$44 billion and is also the CEO of Tesla.
Hundreds more resigned after he asked staff "to be extremely hardcore" or quit.
The lawsuit claims Musk's ultimatum violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to workers with disabilities.
The two plaintiffs are engineering managers who say they were respectively laid off and fired last month. They claim many Twitter employees with disabilities were forced to resign because they could not return to the office and meet Musk's demanding standards.
The company in Wednesday's filing said the worker who was laid off signed an agreement to arbitrate employment-related legal disputes and asked to have his claims sent to arbitration.
The other former employee, Dmitry Borodaenko, cannot represent a class of workers because he was fired before Musk asked employees to commit to longer hours, the company said.
Shannon Liss-Riordan, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said it was routine for defendants to try to get cases dismissed early on.
"We will respond in due course, but we stand by these allegations and look forward to holding Twitter and Elon Musk accountable for his deplorable treatment of employees over the last two months," she said.
A hearing is scheduled on Twitter's motion for April.
The lawsuit is one of four pending in the same court that stems from staff cuts at the company. The other cases accuse Twitter of not giving employees and contractors advance notice of the layoffs, failing to pay promised severance and disproportionately targeting women for job cuts.
Dozens of former Twitter employees filed complaints against the company this week in arbitration making similar claims.
Twitter has denied violating laws requiring advance notice of layoffs and has not responded to the other lawsuits.