A complaint was filed against SpaceX for the dismissal of employees

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the U.S. authorized body in the field of employee-employer relations, is reviewing a complaint against SpaceX from eight former employees who claim to have been illegally fired for distributing an open letter inside the company. 

Elon Musk is the head of SpaceX. Source: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Employee complaint

On January 3, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board filed a formal complaint against SpaceX. It combines eight cases of individual people dismissed by the company in November 2022. They claimed that they had been fired for activities that were lawful under the National Labor Relations Act.

This case began in June 2022, when an open letter was distributed in the company’s electronic system calling on SpaceX to distance itself from the social media activities of its CEO, Elon Musk. “Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us,” the letter states, “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX—every Tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company.”

Conflict within the company

Some of the employees whose names the letter was signed with were fired by SpaceX immediately, and some later. The NLRB complaint notes that SpaceX officials, whose names have also been redacted, “impliedly invited employees to quit if they wished to engage in protected concerted activities.” 

The NLRB concluded that SpaceX “has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed” under the National Labor Relations Act. The agency is seeking remedies, which include educating space company managers about the law and sending letters of apology to fired employees. The complaint does not specify any monetary compensation but adds that the board of directors “seeks all other relief as may be just and proper to remedy the unfair labor practices alleged.”

SpaceX’s reaction to the workers’ complaint

SpaceX has not commented on the complaint, but should submit an official response to the NLRB by January 17. The appeal hearing is scheduled for March 5, but the company adds that it “encourages the parties to engage in settlement efforts” before then. 

SpaceX has not taken any obvious steps to satisfy the request of former employees to separate themselves from Elon Musk’s social media activities. Perhaps it has tried to get closer to this, especially after it acquired Twitter in October 2022. Thus, the company consolidated its activities on social networks, as well as live broadcasts of launches on the social network X (formerly Twitter).

According to spacenews

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