Compliance » SpaceX Faces Labor Board Accusations of Wrongful Termination Over Critical Letter About Elon Musk

SpaceX Faces Labor Board Accusations of Wrongful Termination Over Critical Letter About Elon Musk

SpaceX Faces Labor Board Accusations of Wrongful Termination Over Critical Letter About Elon Musk

January 9, 2024

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has accused SpaceX of unlawfully terminating eight employees who circulated a critical letter about the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, according to the New York Times. The complaint alleges that in 2022, SpaceX fired the employees who called on the company to distance itself from Musk’s controversial social media comments, including one mocking sexual harassment accusations against him. The letter also urged SpaceX, which has over 13,000 employees, to clarify and consistently enforce harassment policies.

The NLRB complaint contends that Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and COO, unlawfully restricted employees from circulating the letter, and other executives and managers committed similar infractions. The case is set to go before an administrative judge in March unless a settlement is reached. The NLRB seeks remedies like reinstatement and back pay for the terminated workers.

SpaceX has not yet responded to the allegations. This incident follows a history of Musk taking a tough stance toward employees in his companies. Previously, he laid off half the workforce at Twitter (now X) shortly after acquiring it in 2022 and subsequently fired internal critics. Musk’s other company, Tesla, has also faced labor disputes, with the NLRB ruling in 2021 that Tesla illegally fired an employee for engaging in union activity.

This latest accusation against SpaceX aligns with a broader context of concerns about the company’s workplace culture. In December 2021, a former SpaceX employee detailed instances of harassment and groping that allegedly went unaddressed. SpaceX pledged to conduct an audit of its harassment policies in response. The recent NLRB complaint suggests a pattern of retaliation against employees advocating for a more tolerant and accountable work environment, raising questions about the company’s commitment to addressing workplace issues.

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