A senior Irish-based employee of the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) who allegedly liked tweets critical of the company and its owner Elon Musk has secured a temporary High Court injunction restraining the firm from taking any further steps in a disciplinary process against him
Aaron Rodericks, who is the co-lead of threat disruption at X, secured the order against his employer.
He claims that he is being subjected to a process that is “a complete sham” over allegations that he “demonstrated hostility” to the company for allegedly liking tweets by third parties that are critical of X, Mr Musk and the firm’s chief executive Linda Yaccarino.
Mr Rodericks, with an address at Cualanor in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, denies any wrongdoing in respect of his employment.
A disciplinary hearing against Mr Rodericks was due to be heard by the company at 4pm on Friday afternoon.
However, 30 minutes before that meeting was due to be heard, the High Court granted Mr Rodericks temporary injunction halting that process.
In his action Mr Rodericks claims the disciplinary process arose after he had posted about job vacancies at the company on his personal X account.
He says that in response he received “a barrage of threatening, and abusive messages” from persons who wrongly believed the posts were an attempt by X to censor free speech and influence election outcomes.
In a sworn statement to the court, he said he made the company aware of the backlash he received, but that it took no action.
Shortly afterwards, he claims, he was the subject of a meeting and a disciplinary process that has seen him suspended from his job for allegedly liking disparaging posts about X, Mr Musk, and Ms Yaccarino.
He said that he was very surprised about the allegations, as the company had adopted a strong position on the freedom of speech on the platform, and is not aware of any requirement the precludes employees from liking material posted on X.
Seeking the injunction halting the hearing, Colm Kitson instructed by Daniel Spring and Co Solicitors for Mr Rodericks said that it is his client’s view that the flawed disciplinary process has been “preordained” by senior persons at X.
Counsel said Mr Rodericks’s suspension from his job is without justification and is in breach of both fair procedures and his client’s contract of employment.
Counsel said that following his suspension earlier this month Mr Rodericks attended a meeting with an investigator appointed by the company to look into the allegations.
Counsel said that Mr Rodericks believed that the purpose of that meeting was to determine if he had a case to answer.
Arising out of that meeting, counsel, said findings were made by the investigator against his client. Counsel said that the investigator had exceeded her role and was not entitled to make those findings.
Arising out of those findings, the company wanted to proceed with a disciplinary hearing on Friday September 22nd, which counsel said should be halted.
Counsel said that his client disputes the findings against him and says he was not provided with documentation he argues he is entitled to by his employer regarding the allegations against him.
Counsel said that Mr Rodericks was at one point asked by the company if he was open to a “termination package” from his employment, or alternatively be the subject of a disciplinary process.
Counsel also said that he has being asked to attend a separate meeting to discuss his possible redundancy.
Counsel said that his client does not know what to make of that request, as Mr Rodericks and some others in his team, had only received an email inviting him to the redundancy meeting at 1am on Friday morning.
The matter came before Mr Justice David Holland during Friday’s vacation sitting of the High Court.
The judge on an ex parte basis granted Mr Rodericks the injunction against Twitter International Unlimited Company.
The judge said that while he was not making any findings of fact in the action, he was satisfied from the evidence that the disciplinary hearing should be halted by the court.
The judge found Mr Rodericks had made out a fair case to be tried in relation to the claim that the investigator’s findings against him are flawed and were made after the plaintiff had believed their meeting was to determine if he had a case to answer.
The judge added that the balance of justice, given the serious nature of the allegations against the plaintiff, also favoured the granting of the temporary injunction, and that damages would not be an adequate remedy.
The matter will return before the court next week.