SpaceX Faces DOJ Lawsuit Over Alleged Hiring Discrimination

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is under scrutiny as the US Department of Justice (DOJ) takes legal action, accusing the aerospace company of discriminatory hiring practices towards asylees and refugees. The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, asserts that from September 2018 to May 2022, SpaceX dissuaded qualified refugees and asylees from pursuing employment by providing inaccurate information that suggested the company exclusively considered US citizens and lawful permanent residents for hiring.

The lawsuit contends that SpaceX not only neglected to give fair consideration to applications from asylees and refugees but also intentionally refrained from hiring them. Furthermore, the DOJ alleges that SpaceX erroneously interpreted US export control regulations, wrongly claiming that these laws restricted their hiring options to US citizens and lawful residents. During the period spanning September 2018 to September 2020, the lawsuit claims that SpaceX exclusively employed US citizens and individuals with green cards.

This legal action against SpaceX isn’t a newfound concern for the DOJ. As early as May 2020, the DOJ’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) initiated an inquiry to determine if SpaceX engaged in discriminatory practices based on citizenship or immigration status. Regrettably, the DOJ asserts that SpaceX hindered the investigation by failing to provide requested documents promptly.

The lawsuit reveals that it took over a year and a subpoena for SpaceX to furnish the requested documents to the IER. Ultimately, in November 2022, the IER concluded its investigation, stating that it had credible grounds to believe that SpaceX systematically practiced unfair employment policies with regards to immigration matters.

Curiously, the lawsuit draws evidence from direct statements made by Musk himself. The DOJ references two videos where Musk discusses the company’s hiring limitations. Interestingly, within a week of the investigation’s launch, Musk posted on the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), asserting that SpaceX’s hiring criteria demanded candidates to possess a green card due to the classification of rockets as advanced weapons technology.

Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, emphasized, “Our investigation found that SpaceX failed to fairly consider or hire asylees and refugees because of their citizenship status and imposed what amounted to a ban on their hire regardless of their qualification, in violation of federal law.”

SpaceX has grown to become a pivotal partner in launching missions for the US government, collaborating on numerous NASA projects over the years.

In response to these allegations, the DOJ is pursuing equitable treatment and retroactive compensation for asylees and refugees who encountered barriers or were denied employment opportunities at SpaceX. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties, the extent of which will be determined through the legal process. Meanwhile, the DOJ is actively encouraging asylees and refugees who faced obstacles in applying to or securing roles at SpaceX to reach out to the IER for assistance.

This comes after a recent report revealed that Musk sent an email to the employees of his aerospace firm SpaceX to tell them that they can subscribe to any creators on X essentially for free, as a perk of being in the company.


Information for this story was found via The Verge and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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