A former Twitter executive who claims the social media giant did not abide by part of a severance agreement he signed has failed in an attempt to pursue an outstanding sum of €13,000 as an employment rights claim.
The Workplace Relations Commission heard that Twitter’s ex-director of business development, Robert Talbot, agreed to take redundancy from his €167,000-a-year job in May this year in exchange for an ex-gratia payment of €73,000.
However, in a complaint under the Organisation of Working time Act 1997, Mr Talbot accused Twitter International Unlimited Company of reneging on the terms of the settlement deal he signed by failing to pay him €12,883 for his outstanding statutory annual leave for 2022.
Mark Curran, appearing for Twitter, now known as X, instructed by solicitor Karen Hennessy of Mason Hayes and Curran, submitted that any claim that the social media firm had acted in breach of the severance agreement was “a private contractual law matter and outside of the WRC’s jurisdiction”.
Mr Curran said Mr Talbot had “waived his right” to take an employment rights claim when he signed for an ex-gratia payment of €73,005.85 in May this year.
Mr Talbot said a key part of his decision to enter into the severance agreement was “the presumption that the respondent would comply with its terms”.
Mr Talbot said a term of the agreement was that Twitter was to pay him for “accrued but unused annual leave” and that the company had not done so.
However, he accepted he had signed the agreement with “full knowledge of the impact of the agreement on [his] legal rights” and said he understood it.
The complainant said he had not taken the legal advice which had been arranged and paid for in part as part of the severance process but had spoken to “family and friends in the legal industry” and had “sufficient time” to consider its terms.
In her decision, adjudicator Elizabeth Spelman wrote that the case law on severance deals required that a worker be advised of their legal entitlements, that the agreement include a list of what rights were being compromised on, and that the worker be advised in writing that they should take legal advice.
“It is accepted that statutory rights may be waived provided there is informed consent on the part of the employee,” she wrote.
Mr Talbot “signed the severance agreement with the benefit of informed consent”, Ms Spelman wrote, meaning she had no jurisdiction to hear the claim.