October 6, 2023

SpaceX Faces New Class Action Lawsuit: Are White Men Paid More For The Same Job?

Elon Musk’s aerospace manufacturing company, SpaceX, is facing a class action lawsuit for alleged wage discrimination based on gender and race.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges that SpaceX systematically pays its women and minority employees less than their white male counterparts for equivalent job roles.

Same work, different pay

Ashley Foltz, a propulsion engineer at SpaceX, joined the company in September 2022.

She was hired at a salary of $92,000, while her white male counterparts with similar or less experience were offered as much as $115,000 for similar positions.

Foltz became aware of this pay discrepancy when California introduced a salary transparency law mandating that employers disclose pay scales in their job postings.

When it came to light that the salary range for her job was $95,000 to $115,000, SpaceX increased Foltz’s salary to $95,000.

Read: Google’s $20K Race Pay Gap: Black Ex-Employees Share Their Insights

SpaceX has “no legitimate justification for their discriminatory pay practices,” the complaint states, per Bloomberg. “Throughout her employment, Ms. Foltz has been paid less than other male engineers for performing the same or substantially similar work.”

Using job titles to justify lower pay

According to the lawsuit, SpaceX uses job titles as a mechanism to justify paying women and minorities less than their white male counterparts.

For instance, women and minorities are assigned titles like “Technical Writer” instead of “Engineer 1,” resulting in lower compensation. The complaint also identifies differences in promotion rates based on race and gender.

In doing so, SpaceX is violating California labor law, the lawsuit claims.

“[SpaceX] have created a scheme in an attempt to create a facially neutral pay structure to insulate their illegal pay practices from legal challenge and/or dissuade employees from realizing they have been paid unlawfully,” the lawsuit states.

Yet, Another discrimination lawsuit

This lawsuit against SpaceX is not an isolated incident. Both SpaceX and Tesla, Musk’s electric vehicle company, have faced allegations of discriminatory hiring and promotion practices.

Earlier this year, the US Department of Justice brought a lawsuit against SpaceX, accusing the company of discriminating against asylum recipients and refugees during the hiring process.

Reuters reports that SpaceX has denied any wrongdoing and filed a countersuit.

Samara Linton

Community Manager at POCIT | Co-editor of The Colour of Madness: Mental Health and Race in Technicolour (2022), and co-author of Diane Abbott: The Authorised Biography (2020)