SpaceX fires employees for open letter critical of Elon Musk

A group of SpaceX employees who distributed an open letter criticizing company founder Elon Musk has been fired from the company. Musk has recently been the subject of sexual harassment allegations, with hundreds of employees reportedly signing the letter urging SpaceX to take a tougher stance on sexual harassment by “holding[ing] all leaders equally responsible” for unacceptable behavior.

The letter criticized Musk’s public behavior, saying it was a distraction for SpaceX employees and not conducive to a positive image of the company with the public. “Elon’s behavior in the public sphere has been a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment to us, especially in recent weeks,” the letter read in part, as reported by the New York Times. “As our CEO and most prominent spokesperson, Elon is seen as the face of SpaceX – every tweet Elon sends is a de facto public statement from the company.”

Musk has long been a controversial figure, with actions such as smoking marijuana on Joe Rogan’s show to being sued by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) for tweets that influenced the stock prices of his companies. But in recent months, the tide of public opinion on him seems to have shifted from seeing him as a sympathetic villain to something more worrisome. He has been accused by a flight attendant of sexual harassment for which SpaceX has paid a $250,000 settlement (an accusation Musk refused), and a Tesla investor has sued him for creating a “toxic” workplace, including racial discrimination and harassment.

With Musk’s offer to buy Twitter, his tweeting has garnered even more attention, responding to tweets criticizing Twitter employees and sparking a spate of online attacks against them. In the open letter from SpaceX employees, as described by the Times, the employees say the company must condemn this “harmful Twitter behavior” and that “SpaceX must quickly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand.”

The letter first circulated Wednesday this week, and the Times reported that a number of employees who organized and distributed the letter had been fired on Thursday afternoon. It has since become clear that at least five employees have been fired in connection with the letter, Reuters reports. According to labor lawyers consulted by The Verge, these layoffs may have been illegal under labor laws that protect workers’ rights to organize to improve their working conditions.

Leave a Comment