August 25, 2023

U.S. Justice Department Files Lawsuit Against SpaceX Over Alleged Discrimination In Hiring Practices

The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk’s rocket company, SpaceX, for allegedly discriminating against asylees and refugees in hiring.

Musk’s SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft.

The Lawsuit

The lawsuit alleges that from September 2018 to May 2022, SpaceX routinely discouraged asylees and refugees from applying.

It also states the company refused to hire or consider them because of their citizenship status, violating the Immigration and Nationality Act.

In job postings over several years, the rocket company wrongly claimed that under federal regulations known as “export control laws,” SpaceX could hire only U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

However, the suit states that asylees’ and refugees’ permission to live and work in the U.S. does not expire, and they stand on equal footing with U.S. citizens.

This would ensure that companies such as SpaceX can hire asylees and refugees for the same positions they would employ U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

“Asylees and refugees have overcome many obstacles in their lives, and unlawful employment discrimination based on their citizenship status should not be one of them,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

“Through this lawsuit, we will hold SpaceX accountable for its illegal employment practices and seek relief that allows asylees and refugees to compete for job opportunities fairly.”

Over the four years cited in the suit, SpaceX allegedly only hired U.S. citizens and green card holders.

The justice department wants SpaceX to reasonably consider and provide back pay for refugees and asylum seekers who were wrongly denied work because of this alleged discrimination.

They also want civil penalties imposed and policy changes to ensure compliance.

Musk and Discrimination

Previously this month, Musk’s Twitter – rebranded as X – received lawsuits from seven former employees as they alleged that the company’s mass layoffs unfairly impacted employees with protected characteristics, including Black employees.

This year, his Tesla company was also found to have failed to prevent severe racial harassment at its flagship assembly plant in Fremont, California.

Tesla was ordered to pay Owen Biaz, a Black former worker at Tesla’s Fremont factory, $175,000 in damages for emotional distress and $3 million in punitive damages.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.