Fired SpaceX employees accuse the company of violating labor laws

NEW YORK (AP) — Several SpaceX employees who were fired after they released an open letter calling out CEO Elon Musk’s behavior have filed complaints accusing the company of violating labor laws.

The complaint, filed Wednesday with the National Labor Relations Board, details what allegedly happened inside SpaceX after employees released the letter in June. allegations that he sexually assaulted a flight attendant – and hold everyone accountable for unacceptable behavior.

The letter comes weeks after news broke that Musk had paid a flight attendant $250,000 to drop a potential sexual harassment lawsuit against her. The billionaire denied the accusations.

In the letter, the employees called on SpaceX to uniformly enforce its policy against unacceptable behavior and follow a transparent process for responding to allegations of misconduct. A day later, Paige Holland-Thielen and four other employees involved in organizing the letter were fired, according to a filing by Holland-Thielen with the regional NLRB office in California. Four additional employees were fired weeks later for their involvement in the letter.

A company spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk, who is the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX and now runs Twitter, prefers to do things his way, even if it goes against the rules and regulations. It is currently in a dispute with California’s regulator, the Department of Civil Rights, which is suing Tesla. due to widespread racial discrimination.

Some consider Musk’s management style autocratic and demanding, he said in a recent email to Twitter employees, giving them until Thursday evening to decide if they want to remain part of the business. Musk wrote that building a “breakthrough Twitter 2.0” would require employees to be “extremely tough” and that success would require long, high-intensity hours.

A number of engineers also announced on Twitter that they had been fired last week After saying something critical of Musk on Twitter or on an internal message board for Twitter employees.

In a statement, Holland-Thielen said she experienced “deep cultural challenges” as a female engineer at SpaceX and consoled her colleagues who faced similar challenges.

“It was clear that this culture was created from the highest level,” he said.

Still, he said part of what he likes about the company is that anyone can bring issues to leadership and be taken seriously.

“We drafted this letter to put it to the executive on their terms and to show that their inaction poses significant obstacles to the long-term success of the mission,” Holland-Thielen said. “We never imagined that SpaceX would fire us for trying to help the company succeed.”

The layoffs coincide with Musk’s $44 billion buyout From Twitter. Around the same time, the billionaire used a sexist term to mock Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates’ stomach and also posted a poo emoji during an online discussion with then-Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal.

After terminating the first task force, SpaceX allegedly questioned dozens of others in private meetings over the next two months and told them they could not disclose those conversations to anyone else because of attorney-client privilege, according to the complaint. Four additional employees who helped draft or share the letter were fired in July and August, the filing said, making a total of nine layoffs.

“Management has used this ‘ends justify the means’ philosophy to turn a blind eye to the ongoing mistreatment, harassment and abuse reported by my colleagues, many of which were directly inspired and inspired by the CEO’s words and actions,” said Tom. Moline was also fired from SpaceX after organizing the letter.

Jeffery Pfeffer, a professor specializing in organizational behavior at Stanford University’s business school, said the allegations were not a surprise given Musk’s leadership style on Twitter. Musk’s success at companies like Tesla and SpaceX has created what he labels arrogance under the false notion that “it’s all about individual genius.”

“Strong people can break the rules. They don’t think they are bound by the same conventions as other people,” Pfeffer criticized Musk’s behavior. He said it shows the arrogance of Musk, one of the richest men in the world: “Why does he think he is mortal?”


Groves reported from Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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