Elon Musk’s SpaceX sued for alleged hiring discrimination against non-US citizens

Elon Musk's SpaceX sued for alleged hiring discrimination against non-US citizens

US Department of Justice sues Elon Musk’s SpaceX over alleged hiring discrimination against refugees and asylum seekers.

The US Department of Justice has sued SpaceX, the rocket company founded and run by Elon Musk, for alleged hiring discrimination against refugees and people seeking or already granted asylum.

The lawsuit alleges that SpaceX wrongly claimed that federal export control laws barred it from hiring anyone but US citizens and permanent residents. As a result, it discouraged refugees and asylum seekers and grantees from applying for jobs at the company.

In the past, Musk has said SpaceX is barred from hiring foreign nationals unless they have a green card, appearing to suggest it was because of restrictions placed on the sharing of information related to rocket technology, known as International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR.

Export controls typically aim to protect US national security and to further national trade objectives. They bar the shipment of specific technologies, weapons, information and software to specific non-US nations and also limit the sharing or release of such items and information to “US persons.” But the Justice Department noted that the term includes not only US citizens, but also permanent US residents, refugees, and those seeking or granted asylum.

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX

The Justice Department has been investigating SpaceX’s hiring practices since 2020, after receiving a complaint from an individual who claimed he wasn’t

hired by SpaceX after revealing during an interview that he was not US citizen nor a lawful permanent resident. In June 2021, a federal judge ruled that SpaceX had to turn over its hiring records as part of the probe.

“SpaceX cannot afford to artificially limit the talent pool from which it hires by discriminating against anyone on the basis of their citizenship,”

attorneys for SpaceX wrote in a 2021 legal filing related to the Justice Department’s investigation.

The department charged that SpaceX also refused to “fairly” consider applications from this group of people or to hire them. The positions in question included both ones requiring advanced degrees and others such as welders,

cooks and crane operators at the company.

Last year, Walmart Inc., CarMax Inc., Capital One Financial Corp. and Axis Analytics LLC settled with the

Justice Department after similar claims over discriminatory job postings against non-US citizens

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