Musk’s public apology came after a series of tweets went viral, in which he appeared to question Thorleifsson’s claim that his disability prevented him from typing and working, and suggested that he had done no actual work.
The controversy began when Thorleifsson sent a public tweet to Musk, saying that he could not get a response from HR after being locked out of his work’s computer system. Musk responded by implying that Thorleifsson was not telling the truth about his disability, and claiming that he had done no actual work. He also suggested that Thorleifsson was only seeking a big payout by confronting him in public.
However, in a subsequent Twitter thread, Thorleifsson explained that he has muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair, and that his job as a senior director did not require much typing, which he had difficulty with over long periods.
He also stated that he had informed HR about his disability and his inability to work as a hands-on designer, but had been able to write for an hour or two at a time.
After the exchange went viral and Musk’s conduct was widely condemned, the billionaire decided to contact Thorleifsson directly via videocall “to figure out what’s real vs what I was told”. In a follow-up tweet, Musk apologised to Thorleifsson and admitted that his initial response had been based on information that was untrue or not meaningful.
Thorleifsson had sold his creative agency, Ueno, to Twitter in 2021 for an undisclosed sum. He was subsequently appointed as a senior director, but was later locked out of his work’s computer system and sacked.
Earlier in the week, he had told the BBC that he could not get an answer from Twitter’s human resources department on whether or not he had been sacked. He suggested that the company was trying to avoid fulfilling their contractual obligations by looking for anything they could find to make his firing a ‘for cause’ firing.
The controversy has raised concerns about the treatment of workers with disabilities and the role of social media in workplace disputes. It has also highlighted the need for better communication between employers and employees with disabilities, and for greater sensitivity and understanding in the workplace.
Musk’s apology to Thorleifsson has been welcomed by disability rights campaigners and others, who have praised him for taking responsibility for his actions and acknowledging his mistake. However, some have criticised him for his initial response and suggested that he needs to do more to promote disability inclusion and awareness in his companies.
This incident also raises the issue of workplace discrimination and the need for better protections and support for workers with disabilities. While many employers have policies in place to prevent discrimination and provide accommodations for workers with disabilities, there is still a long way to go in terms of improving accessibility and inclusivity in the workplace.
In conclusion, the controversy involving Elon Musk and Halli Thorleifsson highlights the need for greater awareness and sensitivity towards workers with disabilities, and for better communication and support in the workplace.
While Musk’s apology to Thorleifsson is a positive step, it is important that we continue to promote disability inclusion and awareness in all aspects of society, including the workplace.