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SpaceX Unlawfully Fired Employees: US Labor Agency

Rocket and satellite manufacturer SpaceX was accused on Wednesday by a U.S. labor department of improperly terminating eight employees for circulating a letter referring to founder and CEO Elon Musk as a “distraction and embarrassment.”

According to a complaint filed by a regional representative of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), SpaceX has infringed upon the federal labor law rights of its employees to organize and promote improved working conditions.

The June 2022 letter to SpaceX officials addressed a number of sexually provocative tweets that Musk had posted since 2020.The workers demanded that SpaceX denounce Musk’s remarks since they were incompatible with the company’s regulations regarding diversity and workplace misbehavior.

In addition, SpaceX is accused in the complaint of questioning staff members regarding the letter, demeaning the workers involved, and threatening to dismiss staff members who participated in similar activities.

A request for response from SpaceX was not immediately answered.

According to Deborah Lawrence, one of the sacked employees, SpaceX has a “toxic culture” where harassment is accepted, especially toward women. Her attorneys released a comment on the matter.

“We wrote the open letter to leadership not out of malice, but because we cared about the mission and the people around us,” Lawrence stated.

The president appoints the five members of the NLRB board, and the general counsel represents the organization in prosecutorial capacity.

If SpaceX does not reach a settlement, an administrative judge will consider the issue; the judge’s ruling may be challenged before the board and ultimately a federal appeals court. March 5 is the date of the hearing.

The NLRB has the authority to mandate reinstatement and back pay for employees who are fired in violation of labor laws. In the event that SpaceX is found to have broken the law, it may potentially be subject to harsher sanctions in subsequent board cases.

This lawsuit is the most recent to charge Musk-owned businesses of breaking labor and employment laws against their workers’ rights.

At least 600 previously unreported occupational injuries at SpaceX sites, including head injuries, electrocution, crushed limbs, and one fatality, were documented by sources. Requests for comments on the results were not answered by SpaceX.

The Musk-owned social networking platform X, formerly known as Twitter, was accused by the NLRB in October of unlawfully terminating a worker due to tweets that questioned the company’s return-to-office policy. X has refuted any misconduct.

In addition, the CEO of Tesla Inc. (TSLA.O), a manufacturer of electric vehicles, has been the target of many NLRB complaints in the midst of a push to organize a union and other lawsuits alleging pervasive racial discrimination at its plants. According to Tesla, it does not accept discrimination.

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