With 300 Lawyers Watching Closely, Elon Musk Apologizes For Mocking Disabled Worker
Elon Musk loves trolling. Even more, Elon Musk loves giving absolute shit to the lazy do-nothings whom he laid off from Twitter because they were dead weight who weren't willing to be hardcore. So when a laid-off Twitter employee in Iceland took to Twitter to confirm whether he'd been laid off or not (he'd been locked out of his company work systems with no explanation), Musk lit into him, publicly accusing him of malingering and maybe faking a disability, and mocking the guy for obviously trying to win sympathy and a bigger payout.
Oh dear. It turned out not to be some random codemonkey. The shitcanned worker, former Twitter senior director Haraldur Thorleifsson (known as Halli), replied with the details of his disability (he has muscular dystrophy and severe mobility limitations), and pointed out that he'd joined Twitter after the company's previous management purchased his entire company, the digital branding company Ueno, in 2021.
Thorleifsson is also kind of a big deal in Iceland, as CNN reports. He
has been recognized by the United Nations and the president of Iceland for spearheading a charitable effort to build 1,000 wheelchair ramps around Reykjavik to increase the city’s accessibility.
When his company was acquired by Twitter, he chose to take the payment as wages, so he'd be taxed at a higher rate, as a way of "paying it forward" to Iceland's social safety net.
Musk may have eventually been tapped on the shoulder by some expensive attorneys to inform him that berating a laid off employee and accusing him of faking his severe disability wasn't a great look from an employment law perspective. Late Tuesday, Musk finally apologized to Thorleifsson and insisted it was all a big misunderstanding, and golly, maybe he'd like to keep working at Twitter? No harm, no foul, please don't sue my pants off.
Thorleifsson's initial request wasn't particularly mean; he simply wanted some clarification:
Dear @elonmusk [waving hand emoji]
9 days ago the access to my work computer was cut, along with about 200 other Twitter employees.
However your head of HR is not able to confirm if I am an employee or not. You've not answered my emails.
Maybe if enough people retweet you'll answer me here?
Musk's first reply was skeptical right from the start, asking Thorleifsson to detail the work he's been doing and scoffing at the projects Thorleifsson said he'd worked on. Musk topped that off with a video clip from Office Space to mock the very idea that Thorleifsson did anything worthwhile at all, haha!
God, why do these losers think they deserve anything from the Great Man?
Thorleifsson replied that well, sure, "you have every right to lay me off," but a lotta guys woulda actually told people that had happened. He noted in a follow-up tweet that he'd received an email confirming he was no longer employed, and asking if he could please be paid his severance.
Musk, replying to someone else's summary of the conversation, got snotty:
The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm. Can’t say I have a lot of respect for that.
But was he fired? No, you can’t be fired if you weren’t working in the first place!
Thorleifsson ever so politely posted a long thread Tuesday with plenty of context on his disability and his work history. Quote-tweeting Musk's accusation that maybe he wasn't really that disabled, Thorleifsson wrote,
Hi again @elonmusk
I hope you are well.
I’m fine too. I’m thankful for your interest in my health.
But since you mentioned it, I wanted to give you more info.
I have muscular dystrophy. It has many effects on my body.
Let me tell you what they are:
He went on, in sufficient detail to make clear that he has a good life but that he also is very definitely disabled, and now needs help to even get in and out of bed or to use the toilet. He also outlined his business success, noting that
We worked for more or less every big tech company.
We grew fast and made money. I think that's what you are referring to when you say independently wealthy?
That I independently made my money, as opposed to say, inherited an emerald mine.
He noted that when he sold his company to Twitter, he accepted an offer that was lower than might have been wise, because "like you I made a bet on Twitter having a lot more potential than it has had." He also added,
I joined at a time when the company was growing fast. You kind of did the opposite.
There was a lot going on. The company had a fair amount of issues, but then again, most bigger companies do.
Or even small companies, like Twitter today.
This is where I would like to offer Mr. Thorleifsson a job at Wonkette, although it would be a big drop-off in income.
He went on to detail his time at Twitter, and how he kept working on everything his manager asked for, although HR never quite explained what his job description in the rapidly shrinking company was. He saved the coup de grace for the thread's last few tweets:
And now finally to my fingers, which I know you have great concern for. Thank you for that btw.
I'll tell you what I told them. I'm not able to do manual work (which in this case means typing or using a mouse) for extended periods of time without my hands starting to cramp.
I can however write for an hour or two at a time.
This wasn't a problem in Twitter 1.0 since I was a senior director and my job was mostly to help teams move forward, give them strategic and tactical guidance.
But as I told HR (I'm assuming that's the confidential health information you are sharing) I can't work as a hands on designer for the reasons outlined above.
I'm typing this on my phone btw. It's easier for because I only need to use one finger. https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/1633253950198624257
Gosh, we wonder which finger he's giving Elon there.
He closed by asking again whether he would be paid what he's owed, adding "I think you can afford it?"
As a postscript, Thorleifsson offered one more thought, referring to reports that Musk has become so paranoid that he is always accompanied by at least two bodyguards when he's at Twitter HQ, including when he goes to the restroom:
Oh! I forgot to mention that I read you can't go to the toilet on your own either @elonmusk
I'm sorry to hear about that. I know the feeling.
The only difference is I can't do it because of a physical disability and you're afraid someone you hurt will attack you while you poop.
And then, nothing for hours.
Musk eventually tweeted, late Tuesday, to say he was very very sorry and that he'd had a video call with Thorleifsson to clear everything up and everything's fine now. Musk was just dealing with some inaccurate information — surely a first in the history of Twitter — and now everything's fine. How are you?
Based on your comment, I just did a videocall with Halli to figure out what’s real vs what I was told. It’s a long story.
Better to talk to people than communicate via tweet.
BETTER TO TALK TO PEOPLE THAN TO COMMUNICATE VIA TWEET.
Ladies, gentlemen, nonbinaries, and sentient AI's, we present Elon Musk's eventual epitaph, on a future headstone that will be guarded so that no one may piss on it.
Musk followed that with,
I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation. It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful.
He is considering remaining at Twitter.
The news reports we've seen note that Thorleifsson hasn't said what his own plans are. But on Twitter, he announced today that he's releasing a music album. We get the feeling he may be done with Twitter anyway.
Please keep Wonkette typing at you with any fingers that may be relevant to the topic. We love you!
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.