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SpaceX firings after writing on Elon Musk’s behavior likely violate US labor law

SpaceX fired employees who took part in the recent open letter within the company talking about Elon Musk’s behavior. There were comments which talked about Musk’s Twitter replies reflecting the company. Some also stated that the company follows strict sexual harassment rules, however, it doesn’t seem like Musk is following so.

SpaceX reported to fire employees critical of CEO Elon Musk

Image credits- The Columbia

It is known that the members involved with the letter were fired within 24 hours. Many lawyers who are aware of this circumstance have stated that this is violating US labor law. Though SpaceX might get away by stating certain reasons. This is hard to ignore that these employees were fired within 24 hours of stating their opinions. SpaceX president Gwynne also made a clear statement that they were being terminated because of their involvement with the letter.

Now it is still unclear if the fired employees are going to file a suit. However, lawyers state that employees would likely win if they file a lawsuit against SpaceX. Considering various other options which SpaceX could get away with. There are no vulgar or offensive statements in the open letter. It was merely stating their opinion to discuss the working conditions. The comments actually emphasize the company goals and there is no violation included in the comments. A whistleblower attorney at Constantine Cannon, Mary Inman said, “This could very much be seen as retaliation for speaking up. What does this say to workers? It basically says we don’t want to hear from you.”

Work culture

“It strikes me as a letter that is mainly about working conditions,” Garden told. “I think the NLRB would see it that way too.” If the case is successful, SpaceX could be forced to reinstate the fired employees with back pay. Notably, the protections would not apply to managers and supervisors, who aren’t subject to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

The issues raised in the letter also fit into long-standing harassment concerns within SpaceX. In December, five former SpaceX employees came forward with complaints of specific harassment issues they felt had been mishandled. A former intern filed suit against SpaceX in 2020, claiming the company retaliated against her after she reported a harassment incident. The employee letter makes the same point itself, saying “recent events are not isolated incidents; they are emblematic of a wider culture.”

This would not be the first time one of Musk’s companies has run afoul of US labor law. After a heated fight over attempts to unionize Tesla’s Fremont plant under the United Auto Workers, the NLRB ordered Tesla to reinstate a fired employee with back pay. Musk was also ordered to delete a tweet implying that unionization would mean the end of stock options at the company — although, over a year after the order was issued, the tweet remains live. Already, Communications Workers of America (CWA) is taking the SpaceX firings as more fuel for the ongoing effort to organize tech workers.

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