SpaceX accused of illegal dismissal of employees who criticized Elon Musk

The U.S. Labor Department has accused SpaceX of illegally firing eight employees for a letter calling CEO Elon Musk a “distraction and a disgrace”, writes Reuters.

A regional representative of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed the complaint. He claims that SpaceX has violated the rights of employees to unionize and advocate for better working conditions, as provided for by federal labor law.

The situation concerns a letter that was sent to SpaceX management in June 2022. It referred to a series of tweets by Elon Musk in 2020. Many of them were allegedly of a sexual nature.

In their letter, the employees argued that the billionaire’s statements did not comply with the company’s policies, in particular regarding workplace behavior. Therefore, they called on SpaceX to condemn these statements.

But, according to the complaint, the company questioned employees about the letter, humiliated them, and threatened them with dismissal. One of the fired employees, Deborah Lawrence, said that SpaceX has a “toxic culture” in which harassment is tolerated.

“We wrote the open letter to leadership not out of malice, but because we cared about the mission and the people around us,” she explained.

If SpaceX does not reach an agreement with the employees, the case will be referred to an administrative judge, whose decision can be appealed. The hearing is scheduled for March 5.

If SpaceX is found guilty of violating labor laws, it may be forced to reinstate the dismissed employees and pay them back wages.