- According to the complaint reported by Bloomberg, the workers were fired from SpaceX in 2022 after a letter was distributed about SpaceX that was critical of Musk
- They claim to have experienced inappropriate behavior and sexual jokes
A group of seven former employees of Elon Musk's SpaceX say the rocket and satellite company discriminated against women while joking about sexual harassment and even firing those who complained, a new civil rights complaint says.
According to the complaint, first reported by Bloomberg, the workers were fired by the company in 2022 after a letter critical of Musk was distributed via SpaceX.
The workers allege that during their time at the company they were subjected to inappropriate behavior and sexual jokes from managers who often quoted Musk.
“Basically, anything that would make a freshman laugh was fair game in much of the company,” said one of the fired employees, Tom Moline.
The group says SpaceX violated California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, which protects workers who are critical of their management and prohibits gender discrimination.
The California Department of Civil Rights first contacted SpaceX about the allegations in January
The SpaceX logo is displayed on a building at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral on May 26, 2020
Paige Holland-Thielen (above) is among the complainants who say she was regularly discriminated against at SpaceX because of her gender
The California Department of Civil Rights first contacted SpaceX about the allegations in January.
In October, SpaceX was sued by a former employee who claimed the company paid and promoted women and minorities less than white men.
Engineer Paige Holland-Thielen, who is among the complainants, told Bloomberg that she had felt discriminated against since she was hired at SpaceX in 2018 because she was considered a “Level 1” employee, despite having more experience than men who were assigned leadership positions.
When she complained that a male colleague praised her work, Holland-Thielen said she was subjected to a performance review in which she was told she was “too emotional” and that she should be more “humble.”
She claims she once tried to complain to a supervisor about a colleague's inappropriate behavior, but the supervisor made a sexual joke when he saw downward data on her computer and allegedly said, “How can we follow up.” up, up, bring up?”'
In October, former SpaceX engineer Ashley Foltz filed a class-action lawsuit in the US state of California last year, saying the company paid her $92,000 a year while paying men with similar roles and qualifications up to $115,000 had been.
California law prohibits employers from paying employees less than colleagues who perform “substantially similar work” because of their gender, race or ethnicity.
Foltz said she discovered the discrepancy when SpaceX posted job openings for engineering positions with a salary range of $95,000 to $115,000.
This year, a pay transparency law went into effect in California, requiring employers to disclose salary ranges in job postings.