Elon Musk’s X sued for firing exec that blew whistle on FTC consent decree


A former Twitter manager is suing Elon Musk and his social media company X in a New Jersey court, alleging the worker was wrongfully fired for trying to make sure X — formerly Twitter — held up its part of a government agreement.

Alan Rosa served as head of global information technology and information security from his remote home office in the Garden State for 10 months in 2022—until he was fired a few weeks after the tycoon bought the company. 

Earlier that year Twitter had been fined $150 million for previously exploiting personal data from users for commercial purposes without informing them. A Federal Trade Commission consent decree subsequently required Twitter to establish a comprehensive information security program including the introduction of new compliance measures to prevent further abuses.

On Dec. 6 Rosa was dismissed, he claims, because the new owner sought to make cuts in the budget, including software that shared important information with law enforcement authorities around the world.

The legal team argued that Musk knew full well the cuts would risk Twitter breaching government agreements, such as that with the FTC, but was “consistently dismissive” of his obligations.

Rosa “objected to these cuts as he had a reasonable belief that cutting these programs would prevent Twitter from complying with its obligations under the Twitter FTC Consent Decree Order,” the lawsuit says, adding that Rosa was fired “in retaliation” for his refusal.

Not only did Twitter never provide a cause for his termination, it refused to pay out the severance and benefits totaling well over half a million dollars it promised Rosa, pending the results of a new probe into his conduct as employee.

“Defendants acted maliciously and willfully in creating a pretextual sham investigation regarding Plaintiff’s conduct,” the suit claims. 

Seeking unspecified damages

The allegations that Musk cooked up an excuse to short-change Rosa are, at the very least, in character. In his official biography of Musk, Walter Isaacson revealed how his subject bragged about hatching a secret plan to fire then-Twitter head Parag Agrawal without severance over a vendetta Musk had with the former CEO.

Rosa’s legal counsel, the firm Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., claims his termination equates to a breach of contract and is unlawful under New Jersey regulations. It furthermore violates New York labor law and the California Labor Code, his lawyers argue. 

An initial attempt by the two sides to resolve the dispute in arbitration failed after Twitter never responded to emails from the arbitrator and never paid its portion of the fee, despite signing an agreement to do so.

In addition to all legal and attorney costs, Rosa is seeking unspecified compensatory damages, punitive damages and emotional damages, as well as any other relief deemed appropriate by the court.

Fortune reached out for comment to X’s public relations account, which under Musk had automated to reply at all times with a poop emoji. Under CEO Linda Yaccarino, that has since been changed to “busy now, please check back later.”

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