SpaceX is being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice for allegedly discriminating against refugees and asylum seekers in hiring.
The DOJ alleges that SpaceX falsely claimed it could not hire non-U.S. citizens due to export control laws. The investigation began after a foreign worker’s discrimination complaint.
The DOJ states that from September 2018 to May 2022, SpaceX regularly discouraged refugees and asylees from applying due to citizenship status, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
The DOJ also pointed to online posts from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as evidence of discrimination. In a June 2020 tweet, Musk said that “U.S. law requires at least a green card to be hired at SpaceX, as rockets are advanced weapons technology.”
The DOJ disagrees, saying that export control laws do not mandate such limits.
The DOJ is seeking fair consideration and back pay for asylum recipients and refugees who were deterred or denied employment at SpaceX due to the alleged discrimination. The lawsuit also seeks civil penalties and policy changes to ensure SpaceX complies with the federal non-discrimination mandate going forward.
Musk has denied the allegations, calling the lawsuit “weaponization of the DOJ for political purposes.”