Elon Musk attacks disabled employee he fired and calls him ‘the worst’ in humiliating Twitter spat

 (Getty Images for Heidi Klum)
(Getty Images for Heidi Klum)
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Elon Musk has become involved in a humiliating spat with an employee who was not sure whether he had been fired.

The series of events began when Halli Thorleifsson – who has been employed by Twitter since it acquired his company, and has been working in product design since – asked Mr Musk whether he had been fired. He said that his access to his work computer had been cut off, but that he was yet to receive any official indication of whether he was still employed.

Mr Musk then began an exchange that some referred to as the strangest exit interview ever conducted. He asked Mr Thorleifsson “what work” he had been doing, to which he received a detailed reply.

But the Twitter chief executive then attacked Mr Thorleifsson, accusing him of using disability as an excuse and doing “no work”.

The comments prompted outrage that Mr Musk was apparently making Twitter employees aware of their employment status through public tweets. Many also speculated about the possible consequences of discussing employees’ disabilities in such a public arena.

Mr Thorleifsson then tweeted a long thread in which he laid out his health situation, explaining that he has muscular dystrophy and that it has affected his wellbeing.

“My legs were the first to go,” he wrote. “When I was 25 years old I started using a wheelchair.

“It’s been 20 years since that happened.

“In that time the rest of my body has been failing me too. I need help to get in and out of bed and use the toilet.

“For a long time I thought my arms would remain strong. A doctor told me they would.

“But they ended up losing strength. Which, I don’t mind telling you, was hard to accept.

“But you okay the cards you are dealt and I’ve managed to create a wonderful life.”

He noted that his condition meant that it was easier to type on the phone, rather than compose long messages, and that much of his work had been in meetings with other Twitter employees anyway. He also suggested that information had been shared confidentially with Twitter’s HR department, before it was posted by Mr Musk.

He went on to explain that he had become “independently wealthy” by building the very company that Twitter had acquired.

In another post, Billy Markus – the creator of Mr Musk’s favoured cryptocurrency dogecoin – said in an unusual remark that the Twitter chief executive had behaved badly. In a reply, Mr Musk called Mr Thorleifsson “the worst”.

Mr Musk has faced criticism for using his Twitter account to attack people before. Most notably, he called a British cave diver who assisted with the rescue of 13 Thai children a “pedo guy” – though a court later found that he had not defamed the man in question.