Elon Musk’s company X faces setback as US judge denies dismissal

Judge Illston obtained credible evidence from complainant John Zeman who claims X's layoffs unfairly affected older workers


The lawsuit alleging age discrimination during layoffs against Elon Musk’s company — now referred to as X — has faced a setback. Susan Illston, a US district judge in California declined the request to dismiss the case. The complainant, John Zeman, who represents a potential class action, managed to present sufficient evidence indicating that the layoffs disproportionately affected older employees, which allows the case to move forward.

The lawsuit pertains to the social-media platform formerly known as Twitter, which Elon Musk acquired the previous year. Illston ruled on 29 August 2023 that the Zeman had provided substantial evidence to support his claim.

Zeman alleges that X’s mass layoffs had a more significant impact on older workers. For instance, he points out that around 60 per cent of employees aged 50 or above were laid off, along with nearly three-quarters of those above 60. This is in contrast to the 54 per cent of workers under the age of 50 who were fired.

Judge Illston’s decision hinged on the existence of federal laws that prohibited age-based workplace discrimination, and permit complainants to pursue ‘disparate impact’ claims as a class action.

While the judge dismissed the accusation that X had intentionally singled out older employees for layoffs, she granted Zeman a month’s time to amend his lawsuit and provide further details to strengthen this particular claim.

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