A former Twitter engineer said they watched colleagues 'drop like flies' from a virtual meeting during Elon Musk's mass layoffs

Elon Musk attends The 2022 Met Gala.
A former software engineer at Twitter said they were laid off after working on Elon Musk's Twitter Blue all night long.Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
  • A former engineer at Twitter said they watched staff "drop like flies" on a Google Meet.

  • Justine De Caires said co-workers realized they were laid off when they couldn't access their laptops.

  • De Caires was laid off while working on implementing Elon Musk's plans for Twitter Blue.

A former engineer at Twitter said they watched colleagues "drop like flies" from a virtual meeting as mass layoffs occurred.

Justine De Caires, a former senior engineer of three years at Twitter's San Francisco headquarters, described their experience of being laid off after Elon Musk's $44 billion takeover, in an interview with CNN.

De Caires told CNN they were having a "whirlwind of a week" because they were working on the new Twitter Blue feature, working long shifts and on some occasions, through the night.

"That night I had just submitted a code change and maybe an hour later, I heard some of my coworkers, they were posting 'Hey my laptop has this really weird screen on it and I can't log in,' and they were like in London.

"Slowly we realized what was happening and we just got on a Google Meets together and watched everybody drop like flies. It was a really weird sense of whiplash."

In November, Musk axed half of the company's roughly 8,000 employees in an effort to cut costs, and De Caires was among those laid off.

De Caires and five other Twitter staff filed a class action lawsuit against Twitter on November 3, alleging breach of contract and violations of the WARN Act, which requires companies to alert workers before layoffs.

One motion added to the lawsuit said workers had been promised a severance package that would be just as good after Musk's acquisition of the company, and were dissuaded from job hunting during the period in which the acquisition was still being discussed.

Musk has repeatedly purged staff in recent months and a number of employees only discovered they had been laid off after being unable to log into company emails or laptops, per the New York Times.

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