Human Interest

Elon Musk Sued For Sexual Harassment: What We Know

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk were sued on Wednesday (June 12) by former employees who claim they were illegally fired for raising concerns about gender discrimination and sexual harassment at the rocket company. Musk, who founded SpaceX in 2002, “knowingly and purposefully created an unwelcome hostile work environment based upon his conduct of interjecting into the workplace vile sexual photographs, memes, and commentary that demeaned women and/or the LGBTQ+ community,” says the employees’ complaint, Bloomberg reported. More on Elon Musk's Lawsuit The Associated Press reported that eight former employees sued the company and Musk, alleging that he ordered them fired after they challenged what they called “rampant sexual harassment and a hostile ‘animal house’ style work environment” at the company. The report also mentioned that the employees filed their suit in a California state court and detailed their complaints in a 2022 open letter to management they shared “via company intranet.” The next day, plaintiffs were fired, they alleged. Others were terminated after an internal investigation. A report from The Verge said that after the letter was published, President and CEO Gwynne Shotwell emailed two of the letter writers telling them to “stop flooding employees [sic] communications channels immediately,” the complaint claims. Shotwell reportedly later sent a companywide email “with the subject line ‘Please stay focused on the SpaceX mission,’ in which she called the Open Letter ‘overreaching activism’ and stated that ‘[w]e performed an investigation and have terminated a number of employees involved,’” according to the suit. The complaint targets both Musk and SpaceX. “Musk thinks he’s above the law. Our eight brave clients stood up to him and were fired for doing so. We look forward to holding Musk accountable for his actions at trial,” Laurie Burgess, an attorney representing the former engineers, said in a statement. The lawsuit comes after a Wall Street Journal report that Musk had sexual relationships with two SpaceX employees, including a former intern he later hired onto his executive team. A third woman who spoke to the Journal said Musk asked her several times to have his children and complained about her work performance after she said no. The woman said she was also denied a raise.  In 2021, after a former SpaceX employee published an essay detailing multiple instances in which she was groped by her male colleagues, five former employees claimed there was a culture of sexual harassment at the company. The employees said HR handled complaints poorly. In 2022, Business Insider reported that a flight attendant on Musk’s private jet claimed he exposed himself to her.

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