Twitter CEO Elon Musk taunted a recently fired employee on Tuesday after he reached out to ask if he had been let go.
Haraldur Thorleifsson, a Twitter employee since 2021, tweeted Mr Musk on Monday evening asking him to confirm that he had been fired after he lost access to his work computer.
“But your head of HR can’t confirm whether I’m an employee or not. You have not responded to my emails. Maybe if enough people retweet, you’ll reply to me here?” he wrote on Twitter.
Mr. Musk responded by asking what his job at Twitter entailed. Mr. Thorleifson then detailed the work he had done over the past few years, but Mr. Musk didn’t believe it.
He responded sarcastically, asking for more evidence before posting a laughing emoji and a clip from The Office to make it clear that if Mr Thorleifsson had done anything of substance, it was for nothing.
While Mr. Musk’s blunt note drew backlash, he doubled down.
“The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) didn’t do any work, claiming as his excuse that he has a disability that prevents him from typing, but at the same time the tweeting has caused a firestorm.” Mr. Musk tweeted. “But was he fired? No, you can’t be fired if you haven’t worked before!”
Mr Thorleifson, who sold his digital branding agency Twitter in 2021, has muscular dystrophy, which severely limits a person’s ability to carry out daily physical activities. On Tuesday, he detailed many of his health concerns.
My legs went first. When I was 25, I started using a wheelchair.
20 years have passed since then.
During this time, the rest of my body was failing me as well. I need help getting in and out of bed and using the toilet
— Hali (@iamharaldur) March 7, 2023
Mr Thorleifson said his deteriorating health was one of the reasons he sold his company to Twitter in the first place. It’s hard for him to hold the mouse for long periods of time, but he can still work part-time.
“We were growing fast and making money. I think this is what you mean when you say independently wealthy? That I made my own money, not, say, inherited an emerald mine,” he tweeted.
Mr Musk has denied inheriting money from emerald mines in Africa, despite evidence to the contrary.
Mr. Musk’s tweets and Mr. Torleifsson’s firing could face legal challenges because the employee’s health concerns were confidential.
“But as I told HR (I’m assuming it’s confidential health information you’re sharing), I can’t work as a practice designer for the reasons above,” Mr Torleifson tweeted. “I hope this helps! Let me know if you are going to pay what I owe?”
Mr. Musk facilitated mass layoffs when he took over at Twitter late last year. The loss of more than half of the company’s employees created problems, including with the website. Twitter has experienced some of the biggest disruptions in its history this year, and communication between departments has become more difficult, according to former and current employees.
Mr. Musk also disbanded Twitter’s communications department, leaving many users and investigators to rely on his tweets for information.