The US Justice Department filed a lawsuit against SpaceX on Thursday over its hiring practices, accusing Elon Musk’s rocket company of discriminating against asylum seekers and refugees.
“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,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke said.
“Our investigation also found that SpaceX recruiters and high-level officials took actions that actively discouraged asylees and refugees from seeking work opportunities at the company,” Clarke added in a statement.
The Justice Department said SpaceX, from September 2018 to May 2022, discouraged asylum seekers and refugees from applying for jobs at the company because of their citizenship status.
“SpaceX wrongly claimed that under federal regulations known as ‘export control laws,’ SpaceX could hire only US citizens and lawful permanent residents, sometimes referred to as ‘green card holders,'” the department said.
“Export control laws impose no such hiring restrictions,” it said.
The Justice Department said it would seek back pay for asylum seekers and refugees who were deterred or denied employment at SpaceX due to alleged discrimination and for the court to impose civil penalties on the company.
“Asylees and refugees have overcome many obstacles in their lives, and unlawful employment discrimination based on their citizenship status should not be one of them,” Clarke said.
“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.”