DOJ Sues SpaceX for Refugee Discrimination

DOJ Sues SpaceX for Refugee Discrimination
Source: Unsplash

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed a lawsuit against SpaceX, alleging discriminatory hiring practices against refugees and asylees. The lawsuit, covering September 2018 to May 2022, claims SpaceX dissuaded refugees from applying by falsely stating online that only US citizens and lawful permanent residents were eligible. Even when asylees applied, they were reportedly systematically rejected, indicative of routine and long-standing discrimination.

The DOJ’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) launched an investigation in 2020. Requested records were allegedly not provided by SpaceX. In 2021, records were subpoenaed, revealing a “pattern of unfair immigration-related employment practices.”

From 2018 to 2022, SpaceX allegedly published 14 job ads claiming only US citizens or residents could be hired. Of 10,000 hires between Sep 2018 and May 2022, only one asylee was employed, following the IER’s investigation.

Elon Musk, SpaceX’s CEO, made public statements reflecting the company’s hiring approach, notably in a 2020 tweet claiming “U.S. law requires a green card for SpaceX employment due to rockets being advanced weapons technology.” The lawsuit alleges these assertions are false.

The lawsuit argues that “export control laws and regulations do not restrict employers from hiring asylees and refugees.” The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) bars discrimination based on citizenship.

No response from SpaceX has been reported.