Employment Law

Fiona Martyn on 900 CHML talks Twitter “hardcore” ultimatum

A headshot of Canadian employment lawyer Fiona Martin next to the Samfiru Tumarkin LLP and 900 CHML logos.

Interview Summary

Elon Musk has notified Twitter employees that they will have to decide if they are willing to work long hours or resign from their positions. What rights do employees have to refuse overtime? Are these requests considered a substantial change to the terms of employment?

Fiona Martyn, a Toronto employment lawyer and Associate at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP spoke to Shiona Thompson on 900 CHML to answer these questions and more.

Interview Notes

  • Twitter employees accepting new terms of employment: Musk’s request could be considered an attempt to push employees out of their current positions or resign. Twitter employees do have the option of working overtime hours, however, employees in Ontario would have to be compensated for working overtime.
  • Performance reviews for employees: Employers do have the ability and the right to impose performance measures within the workplace. Employees that do not meet certain performance metrics can be terminated however they will still likely be owed severance pay. It is typically very difficult to terminate an employee for cause as a result of performance.
  • Ontario employment laws differ from the U.S: In Ontario, employees are owed severance pay based on the age of the employee, the length of service as well as the position. Musk’s recent ultimatum does not take into account an employee’s legal entitlements.
  • Accepting an ultimatum by deadline and severance pay: The language of the email and deadline to accept will matter in determining the rights of employees and entitlements. It is possible that Twitter employees that decide to click on the link provided will also not be able to pursue future claims.
  • Typical severance package deadlines: Many employers will impose a deadline for employees to accept their severance packages as a pressure tactic. Legally, employees have up to two years after the date of termination to pursue their severance pay. Very short deadlines can be considered bad faith as employees do not have the time to seek legal advice.

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