California is investigating SpaceX for alleged sexism and retaliation.


(Reuters) – A California civil rights regulator is looking into claims that Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX, and the company have not done enough to stop widespread sexual harassment and discrimination against female workers. SpaceX makes rockets and satellites.

A few months after a group of engineers complained to the California Civil Rights Department, alleging they were fired for critiquing SpaceX and Musk in a letter to company management, the government notified SpaceX of the charges in January, according to their attorney Laurie Burgess on Tuesday.

The U.S. National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) has filed a case against SpaceX, alleging that the firm violated federal labour law by terminating the same individuals. The corporation, which has denied any misconduct, sued the agency to stop the case from proceeding on the grounds that the U.S. Constitution did not lawfully designate the NLRB board members and internal judges.

Reuters got six of the California allegations. The engineers claimed in them that SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, California, regularly denies women opportunities for employment and promotions in favour of men, underpays women for work equivalent to that done by men, tolerates sexual harassment and other forms of abuse, and retaliates against the engineers and other employees who file complaints.

“SpaceX tolerates, condones and permits a work environment that is hostile to female employees and to employees of all genders who object to discrimination and harassment,” the employees stated in their grievances.

A request for response from SpaceX was not immediately answered. A request for comment was not answered by the California agency, which is not allowed by state law to comment on investigations that are still ongoing.

According to Burgess, the purpose of the complaints was to protect the engineers and make the workplace safer for all SpaceX workers.

“SpaceX insists that nothing is more important than its mission to get to Mars; our clients shared that vision but were fired for daring to demand that SpaceX comply with basic civil rights while doing so,” Burgess stated.

As initially reported by Bloomberg, SpaceX has until later this month to reply to the California civil rights agency. After that, it will determine whether to reject the accusations or make an effort to mediate a settlement. The company may then authorise the employees to sue or may begin legal action on its own if a settlement cannot be reached.

In a letter dated 2022, the engineers denounced Musk as a “distraction and embarrassment” and took issue with his handling of a flight attendant’s claims of sexual harassment. In addition, a number of Musk’s sexually provocative social media posts from 2020 were emphasised in the letter.

The most recent accusations of widespread labour and employment law infractions against Musk’s firms come from the labour boards of California and the United States.

In 2022, a California agency filed a lawsuit against Tesla, the CEO of an electric car company, alleging that Black manufacturing workers had been subjected to harassment and discrimination. Tesla has said that it will not stand for discrimination and has attempted, but failed, to dispute the agency’s complaint investigation and litigation decision-making process.

In a case filed in September of last year, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission asserted comparable allegations against Tesla.

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