Twilio Says Layoffs Planned Through ‘Anti-Racist’ Lens

A technology company based in San Francisco plans to lay off 11 percent of its workforce, and plans to do so with race in mind.

“As you all know, we are committed to becoming an Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppression company,” Twilio CEO Jeff Lawson said in a message to employees. “Layoffs like this can have a more pronounced impact on marginalized communities, so we were particularly focused on ensuring our layoffs – while a business necessity today – were carried out through an Anti-Racist/Anti-Oppression lens.”

Matthew Sarelson is a partner at Dhillon Law. Based in San Francisco, the firm was founded by prominent conservative commentator and attorney Harmeet Dhillon. 

Sarelson has represented employees and employers nationwide with similar employment claims for 20 years.

He called Twilio’s message to employees “cryptic.”


“No one knows precisely what this means but it’s obvious that the company took race into consideration when it decided who to terminate,” he told The Tennessee Star. “Exactly how Twilio took race into consideration won’t be known until and unless someone files suit against the company.”

“Federal and state employment law absolutely prohibits a company from taking race into account when making employment decisions – it doesn’t matter if the employee is black, white, Asian or Hispanic,” he said. “Your race doesn’t make you more or less qualified to do the job.”

But, Sarelson says, the company might just be posturing to appease the political left.

“Losing your job is terrible but knowing that your race may have contributed to you being fired is just grotesque,” he said. “It is entirely possible that race played no role in the decision and this announcement is just virtue signaling designed to make management feel better about itself.”

Twilio has almost 8,000 employees and offices worldwide.

Lawson made no mention of the looming recession in his explanation for the layoffs.

Instead, he says the company simply grew too fast.

“I’m not going to sugarcoat things. A layoff is the last thing we want to do, but I believe it’s wise and necessary,” he said. “Twilio has grown at an astonishing rate over the past couple years. It was too fast, and without enough focus on our most important company priorities. I take responsibility for those decisions, as well as the difficult decision to do this layoff.”

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Pete D’Abrosca is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Jeff Lawson” by Twilio



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