The National Labor Relations Board is accusing SpaceX of illegally firing several employees for being critical of founder and CEO Elon Musk, according to a complaint filed Wednesday.
The formal complaint, obtained by SpaceNews, claims that SpaceX unlawfully fired eight former employees for circulating an open letter in June 2022 urging the astronautics company to distance itself from Musk.
“Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us, particularly in recent weeks,” the letter, obtained by the Verge, read. “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX — every Tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company. It is critical to make clear to our teams and to our potential talent pool that his messaging does not reflect our work, our mission, or our values.”
“Publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior,” the letter continued. “SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand.”
The letter further claimed that the company’s policies were inconsistently enforced and demanded that leadership be held “equally accountable.”
The employees reportedly shared the letter on an internal Microsoft Teams channel with over 2,600 other SpaceX workers and encouraged colleagues to sign it publicly or anonymously.
Following the letter’s release, several employees were fired. According to the NLRB, the company “impliedly invited employees to quit if they wished to engage in protected concerted activities” and “impliedly threatened employees with discharge if they continued discussion of the issues contained in the Open Letter.”
According to one former worker, Deborah Lawrence, SpaceX has a “toxic culture” where harassment, especially against women, is tolerated, the New York Post reported.
The NLRB accused SpaceX of “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed” under the federal labor law. The agency seeks to require the company to conduct training for its management team and write letters of apology to the fired employees. SpaceX could also face harsher penalties, such as being required to provide the fired employees with back pay.
The NLRB is encouraging the parties to reach a settlement before a hearing that is slated for March. SpaceX must respond to the formal complaint by January 17.
SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment, the Post reported.
Musk seems to have become the target of the Biden administration, with the latest NLRB complaint being just one of many accusations and probes lodged against the billionaire’s companies over the last year.
Maye Musk, Elon’s mother, posted on X last month that she is “furious” with President Biden for waging a war against her son, Blaze News previously reported.
“His goal is to make this world a better place. @POTUS wants to stop him. Have you any idea how furious I am? People in other countries are proud of Elon and do not understand the US President’s motive. Please tell me how I should answer them,” she stated.
Maye Musk wrote the post in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to deny Starlink a $885 million award in 2020 that would have provided high-speed internet service to rural areas in 35 states. According to FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, the award was denied after Biden stated that Elon Musk “is worth being looked at.”
“Doesn’t make sense. Starlink is the only company actually solving rural broadband at scale!” Elon Musk posted on X. “They should arguably dissolve the program and return funds to taxpayers, but definitely not send it those who aren’t getting the job done.”
The Biden administration’s Department of Justice sued SpaceX in August for allegedly refusing to hire refugees and immigrants granted asylum, Blaze News previously reported. Musk fired back, calling the lawsuit “yet another case of weaponization of the DOJ for political purposes.”
“The weaponization of government agencies needs to stop. This fundamentally undermines public faith in the justice system,” Musk said.
Just weeks ago, the European Union declared it launched an investigation into X, Musk’s social media platform. The EU claims that X is being probed for disseminating “illegal content and disinformation.”
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