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Haraldur Thorleifsson.png

Elon Musk Dismantled By a Disabled Employee He Mocked on Twitter

By Jen Maravegias | Social Media | March 7, 2023 |

By Jen Maravegias | Social Media | March 7, 2023 |

Haraldur Thorleifsson.png

We try hard not to write about every dumb thing Elon Musk does. Sometimes his actions on Twitter are so egregious that we can’t let them go without commenting on them. Yesterday, Twitter’s API system went down, Twitter was borked for a few hours, and there were also articles posted around the internet about how Elon is afraid to go to the bathroom without bodyguards. But we let all of that slide into Pajiba Love.

A new day, a new ridiculous post from the world’s richest man (whoops, sorry, he isn’t anymore), and you love to see it.

Please meet Icelandic entrepreneur Haraldur Thorleifsson. He goes by Halli on Twitter and he’s an award-winning designer who has been much lauded in his home country as a genuinely good person. Genuinely good people are Elon Musk’s kryptonite.

Halli sold his design agency, Ueno, to Twitter in 2021 in an “acqui-hire” deal that allowed him to stay on at the social media company. He chose to be paid the sale price as wages, instead of stocks or some other form that would come in at a lower tax rate, because he wanted to give back to the Icelandic social system that he has benefited from all of his life. He’s an honest-to-God good-guy tech bro. You just can’t grow that variety under Capitalism, I guess.

At the end of February, Halli found his access to the Twitter platform had been cut off, along with 200 other employees. When he couldn’t get a straight answer from Twitter’s HR Dept (or whatever’s left of it) regarding his employment status, he took to Twitter itself to get some answers and actually got a response from Musk.

It’s impossible for Elon to leave well enough alone. When Halli’s thread started getting the kind of attention Musk dreams about while he sleeps on his office floor, he had to go and step in it.

The replies to him in that thread are entertaining. The big news though, and I don’t know if Elon’s aware of this (well, he probably is now) but it’s illegal to fire someone for having a disability. There are three conditions under which employers can fire a worker with a disability:

The termination is unrelated to the disability or

The employee does not meet legitimate requirements for the job, such as performance or production standards, with or without a reasonable accommodation or

Because of the employee’s disability, he or she poses a direct threat to health or safety in the workplace.

None of us know enough about this situation to say whether or not this qualifies. But Halli wasn’t willing to let that comment go and gifted us with this beautiful thread in which he politely, but thoroughly, stuffed Elon into a locker and slammed the door in his face.

My legs were the first to go. When I was 25 years old I started using a wheelchair. It’s been 20 years since that happened.In that time the rest of my body has been failing me too. I need help to get in and out of bed and use the toilet. For a long time I thought my arms would remain strong. A doctor told me they would. But they ended up losing strength. Which, I don’t mind telling you, was hard to accept. But you okay the cards you are dealt and I’ve managed to create a wonderful life.

My family is the best. I have two kids. I see them every day. I recommend that. My wife is fantastic. Strong, kind, smart, amazing artist. Couldn’t be happier with her.About nine years ago I started a company called
@uenodotco. I worked a lot, it didn’t do my body any favors but it’s what I felt I needed to do. The hard work paid off and the company became very successful. We worked for more or less every big tech company. We grew fast and made money. I think that’s what you are referring to when you say independently wealthy? That I independently made my money, as opposed to say, inherited an emerald mine.

But after seven years I was tired. Covid was running for longer than the two weeks you said it would. And my body was also continuing to get weaker. After looking at many options I decided to sell my company to Twitter. Financially it wasn’t the best decision. My company was making a lot of money and Twitter’s offer was lower than any smart valuation would say. But like you I made a bet on Twitter having a lot more potential than it has had. I joined at a time when the company was growing fast. You kind of did the opposite. There was a lot going on. The company had a fair amount of issues, but then again, most bigger companies do. Or even small companies, like Twitter today.

Anyway, I digress, are you still reading? Or is the bathroom break over? What was I saying? Ah yes, and then you bought the company and told employees you weren’t firing 75% of them. Which you then did. I wasn’t in the first batch. Or the second or third or fourth. I’m not sure which layoff round I was in there were so many of them. Each one came after you promised the last one was the final one. During my time at the new Twitter, or 2.0 as you called it, I talked to my manager every week and asked what I should focus on.

And then I proceeded to do those things. Every one of them. I also contacted HR regularly and asked if my job description was correct or needed updating. I wanted to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to. They always said they were looking into it but I never got a reply.

And now finally to my fingers, which I know you have great concern for. Thank you for that btw. I’ll tell you what I told them. I’m not able to do manual work (which in this case means typing or using a mouse) for extended periods of time without my hands starting to cramp. I can however write for an hour or two at a time. This wasn’t a problem in Twitter 1.0 since I was a senior director and my job was mostly to help teams move forward, give them strategic and tactical guidance. But as I told HR (I’m assuming that’s the confidential health information you are sharing) I can’t work as a hands on designer for the reasons outlined above.

I’m typing this on my phone btw. It’s easier for because I only need to use one finger. I hope that helps! Let me know if you are going to pay what you owe me? I think you can afford it?

I love the smell of an Icelandic burn early in the morning.

In case you’re interested Halli’s good deeds aren’t limited to owning social media giants and paying taxes. His current passion project is building 1500 wheelchair ramps in Iceland. He’s also opening a restaurant in honor of his late mother. Ow, my heart.

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