Fired SpaceX workers sue Elon Musk for sexist ‘Dark Ages’ culture: ‘Runs company as…’

A lawsuit against Elon Musk and SpaceX claims a hostile work environment with allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, leading to the firing of eight former workers in 2022.

Livemint
First Published13 Jun 2024, 07:48 AM IST
A civil complaint filed in a Los Angeles court alleges Elon Musk terminated workers after they published an open letter detailing their concerns and called on the SpaceX board to distance itself from the SpaceX CEO.
A civil complaint filed in a Los Angeles court alleges Elon Musk terminated workers after they published an open letter detailing their concerns and called on the SpaceX board to distance itself from the SpaceX CEO.(Reuters / David Swanson / File Photo)

Former SpaceX employees filed a lawsuit on June 12, accusing Elon Musk of fostering a sexist "Dark Ages" culture at the company, according to an AFP report. 

The civil complaint, lodged in a Los Angeles court, claims the workers were terminated after they published an open letter expressing their concerns and urging SpaceX's board to distance itself from Musk.

“Elon Musk trumpets SpaceX as the leader to a brave new world of space travel,” the court filing states. “But (he) runs his company in the Dark Ages -- treating women as sexual objects to be evaluated on their bra size, bombarding the workplace with lewd sexual banter, and offering the reprise to those who challenge the 'Animal House' environment that if they don't like it they can seek employment elsewhere.”

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Allegations of Harassment and Discrimination

The lawsuit accuses Musk and SpaceX of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination. Laurie Burgess, the plaintiffs' attorney, stated, “Musk thinks he's above the law. We look forward to holding Musk accountable for his actions at trial.”

The fired employees have already filed a complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board, which has been delayed by a lawsuit from Musk aiming to derail it.

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In a statement, Plaintiff Paige Holland-Thielen said, “Filing this suit marks an important milestone in our quest for justice, for holding leadership accountable, and for implementing responsible changes in workplace policies for our colleagues at SpaceX who continue to toil in a hostile work environment. We hope that this lawsuit encourages our colleagues to stay strong and to keep fighting for a better workplace.”

SpaceX fired all eight former workers represented by the suit in 2022, according to the filing. The lawsuit and complaints to regulators describe a hostile work environment at SpaceX where jokes about sexual harassment were common, women were paid less than men, and those who complained were dismissed.

Musk's Behaviour Under Scrutiny

The plaintiffs' attorneys stated, “Musk knowingly and purposefully created an unwelcome hostile work environment based upon his conduct of interjecting into the workplace vile sexual photographs, memes, and commentary that demeaned women and/or the LGBTQ community.”

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The engineers' complaints describe a sexist corporate culture where sexual comments and other forms of harassment were tolerated or dismissed. They also claimed Musk's often inappropriate online humour was being emulated internally, influencing the workplace atmosphere.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Similar accusations of racism and sexual harassment have also been levelled against Tesla, Musk's other flagship company, at its California site.

(With inputs from AFP)

 

 

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First Published:13 Jun 2024, 07:48 AM IST
HomeCompaniesNewsFired SpaceX workers sue Elon Musk for sexist ‘Dark Ages’ culture: ‘Runs company as…’

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