The student news site of Baruch

The Ticker

The student news site of Baruch

The Ticker

The student news site of Baruch

The Ticker

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.

DOJ suit alleges SpaceX refused to hire refugees, asylum seekers

Alexandra Adelina Nita

The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit on Aug. 24 alleging that SpaceX Corp. discriminated against potential new hires by falsely claiming that federal export control laws barred green card holders from applying.

Elon Musk, the owner of the spacecraft engineering company, defended it on X — formerly known as Twitter — describing the lawsuit as a “weaponization of the DOJ for political purposes.”

“SpaceX was told repeatedly that hiring anyone who was not a permanent resident of the United States would violate international arms trafficking law, which would be a criminal offense,” Musk added.

The department first began investigating the company on May 2, 2020, to determine if there were any patterns of discrimination. This was initiated when a non-U.S. citizen, Fabian Hutter, reported discrimination to the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section of the Department of Justice.

Hutter’s claim came after a job interview for a technical strategy associate position where he was asked about his citizenship status.

“SpaceX’s discriminatory hiring practices were routine, widespread and longstanding, and harmed asylees and refugees,” according to the official complaint.

If the company is found liable, SpaceX’s actions would be in violation of federal law, effectively blocking refugees who possess “permission to live and work in the United States” and “stand on equal footing with U.S. citizens,” according to the justice department.

The investigation found that from September 2018 to May 2022, out of 10,000 applicants hired, only one held non-U.S. citizenship. The asylee applicant was only hired after the company was notified of the investigation.

The online database used for hiring required applicants to self-identify their citizenship status. The investigation found that there was a rejection code titled ‘not authorized to work/ITAR ineligible’ that was used to automatically reject applicants who were non-citizens.

The department’s claims appeared on online job postings and public announcements. Additionally, the asylees and refugees who submitted applications were not considered, and any seemingly qualified applicants were rejected.

On June 8, 2020, SpaceX was asked by IER to provide legal documentation; they declined.

Later that week, in an X post, Elon said, “US law requires at least a green card to be hired at SpaceX, as rockets are considered advanced weapons technology.”

The IER sought out a subpoena and, over a year later, the company complied.

The Bureau of Industry and Security usually gives criminal penalties of up to 20 years in prison and administrative penalties of $1 million in fines for violations of export regulations.

If SpaceX is found liable, they would be required to take affirmative steps to ensure illegal practices are stopped, including paying civil penalties for each individual the company discriminated against.

Additionally, they would need to compensate anyone who lost wages from delays in employment. The company would be required to fairly re-screen asylee or refugee applicants who were improperly rejected and hire anyone qualified for a position.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Alexandra Adelina Nita
Alexandra Adelina Nita, Graphics Editor
Alexandra Adelina Nita is the Graphics Editor for The Ticker.
Donate to The Ticker

Comments (0)

All The Ticker Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *