The U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has taken legal action against SpaceX, filing a complaint accusing the company of unlawfully terminating eight employees. The employees were allegedly fired after authoring an open letter critical of Elon Musk and expressing concerns about the company’s approach to workplace sexual harassment.
The NLRB complaint contends that the employees engaged in protected concerted activities by drafting and distributing the open letter. In the letter, concerns were raised about Musk’s behavior, including divisive social media posts and alleged sexual misconduct conflicting with SpaceX’s policies. The internal posting of the letter followed reports of Musk’s alleged misconduct, leading to a settled harassment claim in 2018.
The NLRB found that SpaceX management engaged in coercive actions, including interrogation of the authors, resulting in the illegal termination of employees exercising protected speech. Despite Elon Musk advocating for free speech, his companies, including SpaceX, have faced accusations of suppressing criticism.
Representing the terminated SpaceX employees, attorney Laurie Burgess mentioned the filing of a formal complaint with the California Civil Rights Department. SpaceX has not responded to requests for comment, and the California Civil Rights Department has yet to comment.
The NLRB’s complaint, issued on Wednesday by the Los Angeles regional director, aims for a settlement between SpaceX and the former employees. If no settlement is reached, a hearing is scheduled for March 5 in Los Angeles before an NLRB administrative law judge. The judge’s decision can be appealed to the NLRB and federal appeals court, offering potential avenues for further legal proceedings.