Nine SpaceX workers had been fired in June of 2022 shortly after disseminating an open letter that urged firm executives to publicly condemn CEO Elon Musk’s public habits. The letter referenced Elon’s sexual misconduct and hush cash funds, his ‘harmful’ Twitter persona, and known as him a ‘source of distraction and embarrassment.’ Those behind the letter had been fired that very same day, as president Gwynne Shotwell stated the letter made workers “uncomfortable” and urged different workers to “avoid activism.”
The law firm representing the fired employees issued a statement saying that its complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleges 37 labor law violations against SpaceX for coercive statements, implied threats, interrogation, unlawful instructions, creating the impression of surveillance, and retaliation for involvement in protected converted activity.
“The charges stem from the company’s response to the employees’ letter to SpaceX’s executive team, which expressed concern about allegations of sexual harassment by CEO Elon Musk, and his harmful behavior on Twitter that hurt the company’s reputation, infected the company culture and created a toxic work environment,” the law firm stated. “In response to the employees’ plea for systemic change to correct these concerns, SpaceX launched a campaign of intimidation and coercion: pulling employees into clandestine interrogations by HR, falsely claiming the meetings were attorney-client privileged, and telling employees to keep the meetings a secret even from their managers.”
Former SpaceX employee Deborah Lawrence said that “SpaceX’s ‘mission above all else’ mentality hurts everyone in the organization by allowing people to get away with harmful behavior, including harassment, groping, and physical violence, directed disproportionately at women. The toxic culture has resulted in many hard-working people, who were otherwise highly motivated by the company’s mission, quitting. We wrote the open letter to leadership not out of malice, but because we cared about the mission and the people around us.”
The NLRB Regional Director in Los Angeles (Region 31) issued a consolidated complaint against SpaceX. The Board recognized that a complaint is not a board decision, but the regional office found merit in the charges filed. The complaint does, however, seek reinstatement of the employees, back pay, and letters of apology to the fired employees. If that doesn’t happen, there will be a hearing to determine the outcome starting in March.
(The above tweet might be unrelated.)