If you have been on Twitter lately, you have likely borne witness to the numerous accounts of laid off former Twitter employees flooding the site. In the tumultuous days and weeks following Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter, thousands of employees were laid off to offset the billionaire’s over-priced acquisition of the site. And if that wasn’t enough drama, numerous fired employees were then asked to return to their jobs as the site struggled to handle the massive reduction in its workforce.
Twitter’s internal struggles are playing out in real-time on its very own platform, but it isn’t the only tech company to face large and even historic numbers of layoffs as of late. Meta and Facebook have cut over 10,000 employees each from its respective companies. Lyft and Stripe have also laid off approximately 13% of its workforce as well. According to Layoffs.fyi, a website which tracks tech job cuts, over 130,000 jobs have been lost worldwide in 2022 alone.
Many of these large tech companies are reacting to market shifts. While the Covid-19 pandemic saw billions turning to tech services, exciting tech companies with increases in sales, such bloated successes did not persist. Instead, the tech industry took a downward turn, caused by people settling back into pre-pandemic routines but with the added specter of rising interest rates, the looming potential of a recession, and a growing distrust of intrusive advertising practices. Even those companies that did not made large job cuts, like Apple, are cautious in their hiring practices now. The anxiety of these large tech companies should be a signal to tech employees to be cautious in their signing of employment contracts and severance agreements.
Important considerations to make in joining the tech sphere could include the existence of a non-compete clause or arbitration agreement in employment contracts.
A non-compete clause may make it difficult to find a similar job after a layoff. While there are legal restrictions on non-competes, an employer may not always be disclosing that in their contracts, which is why it is important to be informed of the law before signing any documents.
An arbitration agreement may pose potential imbalances in any future resolutions of disputes with your employers. When an arbitration agreement is in place, disputes are resolved through a private arbitrator who makes a binding decision pursuant to the provisions of the contract you signed. Courts are minimally, if at all, involved in arbitration. Though there can be positives to arbitration, it poses the risk of bias in favor your employer and against you. Arbitration can be confusing and an agreement to it bars your access to the rights granted to you within the court system, such as a right to a trial by jury.
Another thing to keep in mind if you are a tech employee in Texas is that this state applies the employment “at will” doctrine to nearly every employee. When you are an at will employee, an employer may terminate for any reason at all: whether it’s true or not, malicious or not—or whether it’s just the whim of Elon Musk having spent far too much money on Twitter just for the memes! However, there are alternatives to at will employment, such as “for cause” or “for term” employment. Under for cause employment, your employer must have just cause to fire you. Under for term employment, you are employed for a specified amount of time and any termination before the expiration of that time puts your employer on the hook for paying out the rest of your contract.
Further, if you are laid off and offered a severance agreement, there may be additional restrictions, a release of potential claims, or other pitfalls that you must agree to and which can have a lasting impact on you even after you have parted ways with the company.
This is where it is imperative to consult with a skilled employment lawyer to protect your rights and interests. At Rob Wiley, P.C., we offer document review services wherein a knowledgeable attorney will walk you through your employment contract or severance agreement and offer you valuable insight into the legal ramifications of these agreements. Whether you are entering the tech field, negotiating existing terms, or walking away, it is important to consult an attorney so you have all the facts—and no, Twitter isn’t the place to be getting legal advice!