The U.S. Department of Justice has taken legal action against Elon Musk's space exploration company, SpaceX, accusing it of discriminatory hiring practices. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., alleges that SpaceX illegally disqualified asylees and refugees from job opportunities.
According to the lawsuit, SpaceX officials, including Musk himself, repeatedly stated in public statements, job posts, and recruitment events that only U.S. citizens and green card holders could be employed by the company. A quote attributed to Musk on Twitter in 2020 stated, "U.S. law requires at least a green card to be hired at SpaceX, as rockets are advanced weapons technology."
SpaceX cited the export control act, which restricts the export and sale of certain technologies overseas, as the reason for not hiring non-citizens or individuals without green cards. However, the Department of Justice argues that individuals with refugee status or asylum in the United States have the same right to work as citizens and green card holders. The export control act does not impose hiring restrictions based on citizenship status.
The lawsuit reveals that from 2018 to 2020, SpaceX consistently rejected applicants who had been granted asylum or refugee status, choosing to hire only U.S. citizens or those with green cards. The company also allegedly marked job candidates with asylum or refugee status as ineligible in its recruitment databases.
Kristen Clarke, from the Justice Department's civil rights division, stated, "Our investigation found that SpaceX failed to fairly consider or hire asylees and refugees because of their citizenship status and imposed what amounted to a ban on their hire regardless of their qualification, in violation of federal law."
SpaceX has yet to respond to requests for comment regarding the lawsuit.
The Department of Justice aims to ensure fair consideration and back pay for any refugee or asylum recipient who was deterred from applying or denied employment at SpaceX. Additionally, civil penalties are being sought against the company.
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