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Fired SpaceX employees sued by Musk over alleged workplace misconduct

8 employees who were terminated from SpaceX in 2022 have reportedly fined a lawsuit which claims the detail a hostile environment at the SpaceX office, which is characterized by frequent jokes about sexual harassment, disparities between genders and expulsion of those who raised concerns.

Written By: Saumya Nigam @snigam04 New Delhi Updated on: June 13, 2024 12:05 IST
Elon Musk
Image Source : ELON MUSK Elon Musk

A group of former SpaceX employees have reportedly filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk, accusing him of fostering a sexist and toxic work environment. As per the AFP report, the civil complaint was lodged in a Los Angeles court and alleges that the employees were dismissed after they issued an open letter which criticized Musk for wrong workplace culture, urging the SpaceX board to distance itself from his actions.

‘Dark Ages’ culture at SpaceX

The lawsuit claims to state a troubling picture of SpaceX’s work culture, which is further described as reminiscent of the ‘Dark Ages’ at the company. 

The court filing asserts, “Elon Musk promotes SpaceX as a pioneer in the new frontier of space travel. However, he manages his company in a regressive manner—objectifying women based on their appearance, allowing lewd sexual conversations, and telling those who oppose the 'Animal House' atmosphere that they can find employment elsewhere.”

Harassment and discrimination at SpaceX

The former employees have accused Musk and SpaceX of engaging in sexual harassment, retaliation, discrimination and wrongful termination. 

Laurie Burgess, the attorney representing the complainers has stated, “Musk believes he is above the law. We are eager to hold him accountable for his actions during the trial.”

These allegations are part of a broader complaint that has further been filed with the US National Labor Relations Board. However, this complaint has faced delays due to a lawsuit from Musk who has been aiming at obstructing it.

Call for accountability and change

Plaintiff Paige Holland-Thielen has emphasized the significance of the lawsuit, stating, “This suit represents a critical step in our pursuit of justice. It is about holding leadership accountable and pushing for necessary changes in workplace policies for our colleagues who continue to work in a hostile environment at SpaceX. We hope this lawsuit inspires our colleagues to persist in their fight for a better workplace.”

The filing states that all eight former employees who were involved in the lawsuit were terminated in 2022. Their claims detail a hostile environment at the SpaceX office, characterized by frequent jokes about sexual harassment, pay disparities between men and women and the expulsion of those who raised concerns.

Musk's behaviour and corporate culture under scrutiny

As per the complainer’s attorneys, “Musk deliberately created a hostile work environment by introducing offensive sexual images, memes, and comments that demeaned women and members of the LGBTQ community.”

The complaints further describe a corporate culture at SpaceX where inappropriate sexual remarks and harassment were tolerated and ignored. The complainers also allege that Musk's controversial and inappropriate humour on social media was mirrored within the company as well, and that has been shaping the internal work atmosphere.

SpaceX has yet to respond to these allegations.

Similar accusations of racism and sexual harassment have also been made against Tesla, which is another company led by Musk and known for its premium EV. The complaint was raised majorly for the California facilities and this lawsuit against SpaceX is part of a growing wave of scrutiny over the workplace practices and culture at Musk's owned enterprises.

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