The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit against Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), a company founded and led by Elon Musk, for discriminating against asylees and refugees in the company’s hiring processes. The legal action comes at a difficult moment for SpaceX, which is still reeling from the failure of its Starship rocket.
The lawsuit alleges that, from at least September 2018 to May 2022, SpaceX routinely discouraged asylees and refugees from applying and refused to hire or consider them, due to their citizenship status, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
The DOJ argues that, in its job postings and public statements, SpaceX erroneously claimed that it could only hire U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents as a result of federal regulations, when federal regulations known as “export control laws” impose no such restrictions on hiring.
“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,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
In addition, Clarke claims that SpaceX recruiters and senior staff “took actions that actively discouraged asylees and refugees from seeking work opportunities at the company.”
“Through this lawsuit we will 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,” she added.
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