San Francisco Investigates Twitter HQ for Possible Building Code Violations
San Francisco authorities have opened a new investigation into Twitter after six former senior employees filed a lawsuit against the company, according to the Associated Press and the San Francisco Chronicle. The plaintiffs are accusing the company of breaking local and federal laws and of violating building codes in its effort to turn some of the rooms in its headquarters into bedrooms for employees.
The city’s authorities first launched an investigation into the company in December 2022 following a Forbes report that it converted some of its conference rooms into bedrooms so its staff would have somewhere to rest. The employees were reportedly given no context about the bedrooms, but one could come to the conclusion, based on Elon Musk’s ultimatum that they commit to an “extremely hardcore” Twitter that expects them to work “long hours at high intensity,” that Musk expected employees to work very long hours that they’d need somewhere to rest in or sleep in overnight.
One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is Joseph Killian, the former lead project manager of global design and construction at Twitter. He said Musk’s team instructed him to violate building codes, including removing motion-sensitive lights because they were bothering the staff trying to sleep. The company’s landlord apparently rejected the request, but he still had to hire an electrician to disconnect the lights without permission.
Killian also said that he was told to install cheaper locks for the sleeping quarters that don’t automatically unlock in case of emergency, even though he warned the team that they’d prevent first responders from accessing the rooms. He reportedly quit that day, though somebody else installed the locks afterward. In addition, Killian accused the company of telling him not to divulge those planned changes to city inspectors visiting Twitter HQ. The inspectors only saw the beds and new furniture and had no idea about the violations, the lawsuit stated.
Aside from Killian’s complaints, the lawsuit also accuses Twitter of not paying their promised severance. The new leadership under Musk, it said, “deliberately, specifically, and repeatedly announced their intentions to breach contracts, violate laws, and otherwise ignore their legal obligations.” Regarding Twitter not paying rent, for instance, Musk adviser Pablo Mendoza allegedly told former Twitter real estate division lead Tracy Hawkins: “Elon told me he would only pay rent over his dead body.” Alex Spiro, Musk’s personal attorney, also allegedly “loudly opined that it was unreasonable for Twitter’s landlords to expect Twitter to pay rent, since San Francisco was a s—hole.” The California Property Trust, which owns the building where Twitter’s HQ is located, sued the company for failing to pay $136,250 in rent back in January.
San Francisco previously gave Twitter 15 days to fix its building permit to be able to keep their beds after Forbes’ report came out, but the Chronicle says permits haven’t been granted yet. This new investigation is reportedly being conducted by the San Francisco Department of Building Inspection, though it has yet to issue an official statement. As for Twitter, the company hasn’t had a communications team in a while.
The investigation into Twitter is just the latest in a series of controversies surrounding the company since Musk took over. In addition to the lawsuits and the rent dispute, Musk has also been criticized for his management style and for his comments on Twitter. It remains to be seen what the outcome of the investigation will be, but it is clear that Twitter is facing a number of challenges under Musk’s leadership.