Elon Musk apologises after publicly mocking disabled Twitter employee


Twitter chief Elon Musk on Tuesday publicly apologised to a disabled former employee he suggested did no meaningful work for the company and asked for work accommodations he did not need, a rare move from the billionaire amid ongoing turmoil and uncertainty at Twitter following his takeover.

Elon Musk apologized to a former Twitter employee.

AFP via Getty Images

What happened?

Musk apologised to former Twitter employee Haraldur “Halli” Thorleifsson after the two shared a bitter exchange on the platform a day earlier.

Musk, who publicly criticized Thorleifsson’s work and his need for disability accommodations, said the comments arose from a “misunderstanding of his situation.”

This stemmed from Musk being told things that were “untrue” or were “true, but not meaningful,” he said.

Musk said it was a “long story” figuring out what was real and what was not but stressed a video call with Thorleifsson clarified the matter.

The billionaire, well-known for his unpredictable outbursts and tirades against critics on Twitter, said it is “better to talk to people than communicate via tweet.”

Musk appeared to offer Thorleifsson his job back, adding that he is “considering remaining at Twitter.”

Thorleifsson on Monday reached out to Musk on Twitter to find out if he was still an employee after nine days of being locked out of his work computer and receiving no communications from HR.

Musk grilled Thorleifsson on his work, questioned his need for disability accommodations—Thorleifsson has muscular dystrophy, uses a wheelchair and cannot do manual work for extended periods of time—and said Thorleifsson “did no actual work” for Twitter. He later suggested the tweet was an effort by Thorleifsson “to get a big payout.”

Thorleifsson, who joined Twitter in 2021 after it acquired his startup Ueno,” received an email confirming he was no longer employed during the exchange. The spat, which possibly breached employment laws that protect workers with disabilities, is the latest in a series of high-profile Twitter arguments for Musk and the latest upheaval at Twitter since his takeover last year.

Staff have faced particularly high levels of uncertainty under his plans to reform the platform and large numbers have left through mass layoffs or quitting under Musk’s leadership.

What To Watch For

Thorleifsson has not publicly responded to Musk’s apology or offer to return to Twitter. Before Musk’s apology and job offer, he said his next move is opening a restaurant in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.

Forbes Valuation

$184.8 billion. That’s Elon Musk’s estimated net worth, according to Forbes’ real time tracker. A large amount of his wealth is tied to Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer he cofounded and leads. A good deal of Musk’s Tesla stock has been pledged as collateral for loans. Musk, who purchased Twitter for $44 billion last October, also cofounded rocket firm SpaceX, tunneling enterprise Boring Company and brain interface company Neuralink.


Oscar-winning director Alex Gibney on Monday announced he is working on a new documentary about Musk. The project, titled Musk, will offer “definitive and unvarnished examination” of the billionaire, according to Deadline. Gibney’s past documentaries include investigations into scandals involving Enron, Theranos, Scientology and Volkswagen and subjects including Apple cofounder Steve Jobs. Musk, responding to the news on Twitter, preemptively dismissed the project as a “hit piece.”

This story was first published on Forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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