SpaceX illegally fired workers criticising Elon Musk, says US labour agency

The US labour agency on Wednesday, the 3rd of January, accused rocket and satellite manufacturer SpaceX of illegally firing eight employees who sent a letter criticising the company’s founder and CEO, Elon Musk, with a regional official of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging that SpaceX violated the employees’ right under federal labour laws to collectively advocate for better working conditions, reports Reuters.
In June 2022, a letter addressed to SpaceX executives criticized Elon Musk’s sexually suggestive tweets, alleging that they were inconsistent with the company’s policies on diversity and workplace misconduct, calling on SpaceX to condemn Musk’s statements.
The complaint also alleged that SpaceX questioned employees about the letter, slandered those involved and threatened to fire employees who engaged in similar activities.
Deborah Lawrence, who was fired from SpaceX, says the company has a “toxic culture” where mobbing is tolerated, especially against women. Lawrence, one of a group who wrote an open letter to executives, said

the letter was motivated by concerns about the future of SpaceX’s mission and the well-being of its employees.

The NLRB General Counsel refers cases to a board appointed by the president. If SpaceX fails to reach an agreement, the case will be heard by an administrative judge, whose hearing is scheduled for the 5th of March. If the NLRB finds that SpaceX violated labor rights, possible remedies may include reinstatement of employees and back pay. The company may also face harsher penalties in future Board cases if found to have violated the law.

This is the latest case in which companies led by Elon Musk, including SpaceX, Tesla and X

(formerly Twitter), have faced allegations of violating workers’ rights under labour and employment laws.
According to Reuters, at least 600 previously unreported cases of work injuries at SpaceX facilities were documented, including crushed limbs, electrocution, head injuries and one fatality.
Meanwhile, X was accused of unlawfully firing an employee over a series of tweets questioning the return to office policy.
Tesla, where Musk is CEO, has also faced a number of complaints filed with the NLRB during a union organizing campaign and lawsuits alleging racial discrimination.
Also read: Elon Musk: in the future X/Twitter could go behind a paywall
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