Elon Musk publicly poked fun at the designer who asked if he still had a job at Twitter, questioning his disability

On Monday, the billionaire CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and Twitter spent his evening angering Haraldur Thorleifsson, a former senior director of product design at the company, after Thorleifsson tweeted Musk asking if he was still employed.

During the episode, Musk publicly questioned the former Twitter employee’s disability. Thorleifsson has muscular dystrophy(Opens in a new tab) and has been using a wheelchair for 20 years.

According to Thorleifsson, he was locked out of his company laptop nine days ago. This is the same weekend that Twitter has quit a number of employees who were founders of companies that Twitter had acquired prior to Musk’s acquisition. These individuals were previously placed on a “do not fire” list as paying out their exit package was deemed too expensive. Thorleifsson was the founder of Ueno, a popular creative design agency that Twitter acquired in 2021.

Thorleifsson shared that despite being denied remote access to his computer, Twitter’s human resources department could not confirm the status of his employment.

“Dear @elonmusk… 9 days ago my work computer was locked out along with about 200 other Twitter employees,” Thorleifsson tweeted(Opens in a new tab). “However, your HR manager cannot confirm whether I am an employee or not. You haven’t answered my emails. Maybe you’ll reply to me here when enough people retweet?”

musk answered(Opens in a new tab)by asking Thorleifsson about his work on Twitter. It was a bizarre public request that spurred Musk’s most die-hard fans to attack Thorleifsson.

Thorleifsson asked Musk for confirmation that he could respond without breaking his confidentiality agreement. On Musks permit(Opens in a new tab), Thorleifsson explained what he did on Twitter. According to Thorleifsson, one of his recent achievements was saving the company $500,000 on a contract with online design application tool Figma. He also says that he has been at the forefront of “all active design projects.”

musk answered(Opens in a new tab) with laughing emojis.

It’s unclear why Musk laughed at the response. Some Twitter users have assumed that Musk thought Figma was a hoax joker pretending to be a fired Twitter employee named “Rahul Ligma”. However, Figma is a very real design application company that was acquired(Opens in a new tab) from Adobe for $20 billion last year.

As for Thorleifsson’s work leading projects, Twitter acquired(Opens in a new tab) his design agency in 2021 specifically with the intention of hiring Thorleifsson and his team.

Musk seemed unhappy with the answers, continued to question Thorleifsson and asked for proof of the designer’s work.

“Pictures or it didn’t happen,” Musk replied, to which Thorleifsson responded remind(Opens in a new tab) Musk said he didn’t have access to his work computer, so he couldn’t keep up.

Thorleifsson answered(Opens in a new tab) to further heckling from Musk, noting that he just wanted to know if he was still working for the company and that he didn’t question Musk’s decision as to whether he was actually fired.

It seems like things could have ended there, but Musk went on to address Thorleifsson’s disability in a reply to another user.

“The reality is that this guy (who is independently wealthy) wasn’t doing any real work when Excuse claimed he had a disability that prevents him from typing while tweeting up a storm,” Musk said tweeted(Opens in a new tab). “But was he fired? No, you can’t get fired if you haven’t worked at all!”

Thorleifsson won(Opens in a new tab) multiple “Person of the Year” awards from media organizations in Iceland, where he lives. When his company was acquired by Twitter in 2021, he decided on a payment method that made it possible maximize the amount he would pay in taxes to show his appreciation for the Icelandic welfare system. One of his current projects, Ramp Up Iceland, is building wheelchair ramps across the country to make Iceland more accessible.

Regardless, the designer simply asked about his employment status with the company.

After initial back and forth, Thorleifsson decided to do it share(Opens in a new tab) more about his story in a Twitter thread. In it, he addresses Musk’s apparent trolling, explaining that as part of his condition he has begun to lose upper body strength and that typing becomes increasingly difficult over extended periods of time.

Thorleifsson was able to reach the final blow(Opens in a new tab) also about Musk and refers to a new report(Opens in a new tab) which claims that the Twitter owner is flanked by two bodyguards wherever he goes in Twitter as he is afraid of his own employees.

“Oh! I forgot to mention I read you can’t go to the bathroom alone either @elonmusk,” he tweeted. “I’m sorry to hear that. I know that feeling. The only difference is that I can’t because of a physical disability and you’re afraid someone you hurt will attack you while you’re pooping.”

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