The Elon Musk-owned private space corporation SpaceX faces federal scrutiny over allegations of employment discrimination against asylum seekers and refugees in its hiring practices.
- On Thursday, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against SpaceX, alleging that the company routinely discriminated against asylees and refugees between 2018 and 2022—violating the Immigration and Nationality Act.
- A federal investigation claims that the company created job postings that stipulated that only green card holders were eligible to apply, which is not true under U.S. hiring law.
- Interviewee Fabian Hutter filed a complaint against the company in March 2020 when he said he was asked about his citizenship status during a job interview.
- The Department’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section also alleges that the company stonewalled a 2021 subpoena and hired a single asylum seeker four months after being notified of the federal investigation.
Why It’s News
The allegations against SpaceX are serious, with the Justice Department saying it intends to “hold SpaceX accountable for its illegal employment practices and seek relief that allows asylees and refugees to fairly compete for job opportunities and contribute their talents to SpaceX’s workforce.”
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke went as far as to allege that SpaceX “actively discouraged asylees and refugees from seeking work opportunities at the company” and that it “imposed what amounted to a ban on their hire regardless of their qualification.”
Musk has publicly addressed his company’s hiring practices before. Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico in 2016, he was asked why most SpaceX employees are American.
“Unfortunately, this is not up to us. If you’re working on rocket technology, that’s considered an advanced weapons technology. So, even a normal work visa isn’t sufficient unless you get special permission from the secretary of defense. This is not out of some desire of SpaceX to just hire people with green cards—it’s because we’re not allowed to do anything else. I think this is not a wise policy for the US because there are so many talented people all around the world that we would love to have work at our company. But unless [they] can somehow get a green card, we’re legally prevented from hiring anyone.”