A former SpaceX employee filed a labor law complaint



CNN

Eight former SpaceX employees have filed a labor law complaint, alleging that Elon Musk’s space company illegally fired workers after they wrote company management a letter asking them to publicly condemn Musk’s “harmful” behavior on social media.

The former employee claimed that SpaceX terminated their employment for participating in “protected activities”. Those protected activities included putting together an open letter in June that said SpaceX’s “current systems and culture are not aligned with our stated values.” According to a copy of the letter attached to one of the complaints, the former employee said Musk’s public comments were “a frequent source of annoyance and embarrassment for us.”

SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment, nor has it responded to regular requests from reporters in several years.

The company, which Kasturi founded in 2002, is one of the most influential and powerful commercial space companies in the world. It holds billions of dollars worth of contracts with US military and NASA, including the deal to deliver astronaut and freight to the International Space Station as well as a contract to transport astronauts to the lunar surface as part of the foundation of the space agency. Artemis program.

The existence of the letter, which was signed by at least 400 other workers, was first reported by The Vergeand New York Times news broke Thursday that eight of the nine employees who allege they were fired for their involvement in drafting or sharing the letter were filing formal NLRB complaints. SpaceX has nearly 10,000 employees, according to the NLRB complaint.

An attorney representing Paige Holland-Thielen, one of the fired SpaceX workers who held the role of lead avionics operations and automation engineer, sent a copy of her complaint to CNN and said the allegations in seven other complaints “are similar.”

Of the eight employees who reported the mistake, only Holland-Thielen and Tom Moline, a former senior engineer at SpaceX, agreed to go on the record.

In a statement, Holland-Thielen said that he had “experienced deep cultural problems firsthand and spent countless hours cheering my friends and colleagues through similar and worse things.

“We drafted a letter to communicate with the executive staff about the terms and show how the lack of action creates a real obstacle to the long-term success of the mission,” he said. “We never imagined that SpaceX would fire us to help the company succeed.”

Moline said that management uses an “‘ends justifies the means” philosophy to turn a blind eye to the abuse, harassment, and abuse reported by my colleagues, many of which were directly encouraged and inspired by the CEO’s words and actions.

“I hope this claim will show that no one is above the law, and empower SpaceXers to continue to speak out and fight for a better, fairer workplace,” Moline said in a statement.

The letter asks SpaceX management to make it clear publicly that Musk’s statements – particularly on Twitter – do not reflect the views or values ​​of the company or its employees and insists that SpaceX’s so-called “No Asshole” policy is not being disproportionately enforced.

SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell explains the startup’s “No Asshole” policy address last year, saying, “These people — scoundrels — disturb others; they shut down or co-opt the conversation; and they create a hostile environment where no one wants to contribute. … Embrace the ideas of your fellow workers, especially when they are very different from yours.”

In the weeks leading up to the letter, Musk posted the tweets mocked new reports emerged that he exposed himself to a female flight attendant on a private jet (he also called the allegations “not true“); proposed to create a university with the acronym “TITS”; made sexual jokes at the expense of Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos and a US Senator; appears to pillory use pronoun and gay pride flag during the month of pride; installed a memes that dismisses the idea that “mansplaining” exists the other who compared the Canadian prime minister to Hitler. This is also around the time the musk was embroiled in will-he-won’t-he phase his decision to buy Twitter.

The letter was circulated among employees before being sent to management, and SpaceX chief operating officer Gwynne Shotwell responded in an email to staff, saying a survey revealed that the letter and request for signatures had “bothered many.”

“That is, letters, solicitations and general processes make employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and / or angry because the letter pressured them into something that does not reflect their views,” Shotwell’s email, sent June 16 read.

The same day the letter was sent, Holland-Thielen and four others were fired, according to the NLRB complaint.

“After this initial wave of wrongful revenge terminations, over the next two months SpaceX continued its campaign of retaliation and acts of intimidation by interrogating dozens of employees in private meetings and falsely saying that the conversations were attorney-client privilege and could not be disclosed to anyone.”, ” the complaint reads, referring to the meetings as “unlawful coercive interrogations.”

Laurie Burgess, another attorney representing the former employee, called the incident “shocking” in a statement.

“It’s shocking that SpaceX seems to believe that its mission to get humans to Mars is completely ignoring workers’ basic civil rights,” Burgess said. “I’m proud to represent the brave employees who challenged SpaceX’s conduct by collectively demanding basic workplace protections.”

When the NLRB claims were filed, the board launched its own investigation into the claims that included “interviewing witnesses and requesting documents,” Anne Shaver, a San Francisco-based employment attorney representing eight former SpaceX workers, told CNN. The process usually takes seven to 14 weeks, according to him Website. If the charges are found to have merit, the NLRB will then file its own complaint to appoint an attorney, Shaver added, and the matter will be heard before an administrative law judge unless a settlement is reached.

This is not the first time Musk has faced allegations of violating labor laws, which are designed to protect workers from harassment, discrimination and unsafe working conditions. The NLRB has taken action against Tesla, Musk’s electric car company, for trying to ban workers from wearing clothing that. carrying the insignia of the labor union. The Labor Relations Board also has ordered musk to delete the old tweet was overtly anti-union, and last year’s judge considered that musk fired illegally employees who are trying to unionize.

Tesla, which does not have a communications team, did not respond to reporters’ questions about the development.

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