Federal labor officials have accused SpaceX of firing eight employees for circulating a letter criticizing CEO Elon Musk. These employees called on SpaceX to distance itself from Musk’s social media comments, including one in which he mocked sexual harassment accusations against him. The letter also urged SpaceX to clarify its harassment policies. The regional office of the National Labor Relations Board claims that the company’s president and COO, Gwynne Shotwell, illegally restricted employees from circulating the letter. The case will be heard by an administrative judge in March unless SpaceX agrees to a settlement. Paige Holland-Thielen, one of the employees who was fired, hopes that the charges will hold SpaceX accountable for mistreating workers. This is not the first time Musk’s behavior has sparked controversy. The company is also litigating a case in which it was accused of firing an employee for union activity. In addition, SpaceX has faced legal issues, including accusations of discriminating against asylum-seekers and refugees in its hiring. An essay published by a former employee detailed instances of harassment and groping, prompting the company to audit its harassment policies. Business Insider reported that SpaceX paid $250,000 to settle a claim in which an employee accused Musk of exposing himself and sexually propositioning her. Musk has denied the accusation and joked about it on Twitter. A group of employees drafted the critical letter after brainstorming ideas for making the company less tolerant of harassment. However, SpaceX fired several employees involved in writing and distributing the letter. According to the labor board, the firing was retaliatory, and SpaceX officials had interfered with the employees’ legally protected rights. The complaint also stated that a company vice president broke the law by criticizing the letter and inviting employees to quit if they disagreed with Musk’s behavior. Additionally, a senior HR official created the impression of surveillance by showing workers involved in drafting the letter screenshots of their chat on a messaging app.
NLRB: SpaceX Violated Labor Laws by Terminating Employees Who Criticized Musk
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