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Elon Musk Apologizes To Disabled Employee

Elon Musk
Elon Musk has apologized to a disabled former employee of Twitter after accusing him of using his disability as an excuse. Credit: Daniel Oberhaus / Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY 4.0

On Tuesday, Elon Musk apologized to a disabled Twitter employee after publically accusing him of using his disability as an “excuse” to avoid work.

Haraldur “Halli” Thorleifsson, who now no longer works for Twitter, is an entrepreneur based in Iceland who suffers from muscular dystrophy.

The exchanges between Musk and Thorleifsson appeared publically on Twitter. Musk accused the former Twitter employee of using his disability to excuse inadequate work. However, the tech CEO later backtracked and apologized for his comments.

Elon Musk accused an employee of using disability as an “excuse”

The social media exchange took place on Twitter, which Musk acquired in October last year. During the online interaction, Thorleifsson was trying to work out whether he had lost his job at Twitter.

On Tuesday, Musk questioned whether Thorleifsson brought any value to the company and accused the latter of using his disability as an excuse to perform little or no work.

“The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) did no actual work, claimed as his excuse that he had a disability that prevented him from typing, yet was simultaneously tweeting up a storm. Can’t say I have a lot of respect for that,” he said on Twitter.

As the online exchange was unfolding, Thorleifsson said that he was told by Twitter’s human resources department that he longer had a role there.

That same day, after mounting public criticism, the famous businessman and investor retracted his comments and told followers on Twitter that he had spoken to Thorleifsson on the phone to apologize and offer him his job back.

“I would like to apologize to Halli for my misunderstanding of his situation. It was based on things I was told that were untrue or, in some cases, true, but not meaningful,” Musk tweeted.

“He is considering remaining at Twitter,” he added.

Thorleifsson’s comments

During the back-and-forth on Twitter, Thorleifsson explained his disability to Musk and how it affects his ability to work.

“My legs were the first to go. When I was 25 years old I started using a wheelchair,” Thorleifsson tweeted. “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,” he continued.

Thorleifsson started his own digital and landscaping services company, which he says was successful. However, due to his health condition and the impact of the pandemic, he later sold the company to Twitter, where he also then worked.

“I worked a lot, it didn’t do my body any favors but it’s what I felt I needed to do,” Thorleifsson said.

Due to his worsening health condition, Thorleifsson said that he was not able to do manual work, which in this case meant using a mouse or keyboard for longer than one or two hours.

Although Thorleifsson added that this should not have been a major problem since his role mostly involved managing other employees rather than having to do a lot of typing or manual work.

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