Eight former SpaceX employees said they were wrongfully fired for writing a letter criticizing Elon Musk and filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the company, according to The New York Times. if you will remember, The Times reported it In June, SpaceX fired employees involved in writing an open letter condemning Elon Musk’s “harmful Twitter behavior.” Specifically, they were referencing how the CEO made it crude jokes on Twitter on an allegation of sexual misconduct against him by a flight attendant for the company’s corporate jet. SpaceX paid $250,000 to settle the flight attendant, who claimed Musk had offered to buy her a horse in exchange for sex acts.
Apparently, nine workers lost their jobs as a result of the letter, and charges have been filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for eight of them. “Elon’s behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment to us,” part of the letter read. The people who wrote the letter also included suggestions on how to improve the company and how it could strengthen its sexual harassment policies, including a suggestion that SpaceX should disclose any other harassment claims against Musk.
SpaceX executives were reportedly sympathetic at first and seemed receptive to the ideas the workers included in the proposals. However, they quickly changed their tune. SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell told employees in a letter that some employees involved in writing the letter had actually been fired. “The letter, the solicitations, and the overall process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry that the letter pressured them to sign something that didn’t reflect their views,” he added.
The legal experts Times consulted said workers are most likely protected by the National Labor Relations Act, which gives them the right to self-organise and band together for collective bargaining or other “mutual aid or protection”. Wilma Liebman, the former NLRB chair under Barack Obama, told the publication that SpaceX could argue that the workers wrote the letter only to criticize Musk, who is not protected by the law. However, she said the board would likely disagree and view Musk’s tweets as an act that creates a hostile work environment.
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