SpaceX is under scrutiny as the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has accused the aerospace company of illegally firing eight employees who openly criticized CEO Elon Musk’s behaviour. The controversy arose after the employees circulated a letter in 2022, expressing concerns about Musk’s posts on his newly acquired social media platform, X (formerly Twitter), and addressing allegations of sexual harassment against him.
The NLRB’s Los Angeles regional office claims that SpaceX violated the employees’ rights to collectively advocate for improved working conditions by terminating them. The letter, posted on a Microsoft Teams channel with thousands of employees, labeled Musk’s behaviour as a “frequent source of distraction and embarrassment.”
The letter urged SpaceX to address Musk’s tweets, clarify the company’s policies, and ensure equal accountability for leadership.
In response, SpaceX allegedly interrogated the employees, forbade them from signing or circulating the letter, and restricted discussions about the company’s internal investigation into its origins. The NLRB has issued a complaint, seeking a settlement with SpaceX before a scheduled hearing in March. If unresolved, the case may proceed to a federal court, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The NLRB’s complaint aims to enforce remedies such as requiring SpaceX to post notices about the case and employee rights in workplaces. Additionally, an apology to the terminated employees is sought. SpaceX and Elon Musk have not provided immediate comments on the recent accusations.
This is not the first legal challenges for SpaceX in recent months. In August, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit accusing the company of discriminating against asylum seekers and refugees in its hiring process. That case was eventually thrown out after SpaceX argued that the allegations were both factually and legally unsupportable.