June 23, 2024


SpaceX has been accused of firing workers who criticized CEO Elon Musk and asked for better enforcement of internal harassment policies.

SpaceX has been accused of firing workers who criticized CEO Elon Musk and asked for better enforcement of internal harassment policies.
Photo: Red Huber (Getty Images)

The U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has said it will suspend an administrative case against SpaceX over the alleged illegal firing of engineers who criticized CEO Elon Musk.

The labor board on Thursday told U.S. District Judge Rolando Olvera that halting the case against SpaceX would expedite a final ruling on the aerospace company’s claims that the proceedings violate the U.S. Constitution, according to a Thursday filing in federal court in Texas. The NLRB said that, although it does not agree with SpaceX’s claim that pausing the case is appropriate, it will agree to do so “in the interest” of conserving resources and avoiding “unnecessary” expenses and delays.

The case has moved between the court in Brownsville, Texas, and the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals due to procedural issues. The NLRB said Thursday it would suspend the administrative case once Olvera issues an order explaining how he would rule on the motion to block the case, which would allow the 5th circuit to return the lawsuit to Texas.

The NLRB’s Thursday motion was first reported by Reuters.

SpaceX in January sued the board in Texas, just a day after the NLRB general counsel issued a complaint — which is pending before an administrative judge in Los Angeles — alleging that eight engineers had been illegally fired for distributing a letter that criticized Musk.

The letter also asked the company to clarify its harassment policies and enforce them more consistently. In March, SpaceX was sued by an employee who alleged that executives have ignored complaints of sexual harassment.

In response, SpaceX alleged that the NLRB’s in-house enforcement proceedings violate its constitutional right to a jury trial. It also said limits on the removal of the NLRB’s board members and administrative judges violates the Constitution. Amazon, Starbucks, and Trader Joe’s have asserted similar claims in recent months.

SpaceX last month filed a second lawsuit — this time in federal court in Waco, Texas — after a separate NLRB complaint accused it of forcing workers to sign illegal severance agreements. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily blocked that case.

Olvera in Feburary transferred SpaceX’s lawsuit to California at the NLRB’s request, arguing that belongs there since the company is based in the Golden State and that’s where the administrative case is being heard. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected SpaceX’s appeal of Olvera’s ruling, although the company has asked Olvera to reconsider it.



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