The Department of Justice (DOJ) has initiated legal action against SpaceX, led by Elon Musk, for alleged discriminatory hiring practices targeting asylum-seekers and refugees. Filed on August 23, the lawsuit accuses SpaceX of violating the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by engaging in discriminatory practices during recruiting, screening, and selection processes.
Violation of the INA: DOJ’s Allegations
According to the lawsuit, SpaceX systematically discriminated against asylees and refugees in its hiring procedures from September 2018 to May 2022. The INA mandates that employers cannot discriminate against asylees and refugees in hiring, unless required by law or regulation. The DOJ found no such authorization for SpaceX’s widespread discriminatory actions.
SpaceX’s Response Sought
In pursuit of clarity, The Independent has contacted SpaceX for its response to the lawsuit.
Exclusion Based on Citizenship Status
The lawsuit asserts that citizenship status severely limited the chances of asylees and refugees to be considered fairly for job positions at SpaceX. Furthermore, the DOJ claims that statements made by SpaceX officials, including CEO Elon Musk, wrongly dissuaded these individuals from applying by incorrectly stating that the company exclusively hired US citizens and lawful permanent residents.
Unfair Treatment During Application Process
SpaceX’s alleged discriminatory practices extended to the application process, where applicants were unfairly rejected based on citizenship status.
Magnitude of SpaceX’s Discrimination
The lawsuit underscores that SpaceX’s discriminatory practices were systematic, widespread, and entrenched, ultimately negatively impacting the opportunities of asylees and refugees seeking employment.
DOJ’s Position: Holding SpaceX Accountable
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke from the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division asserts that discrimination based on citizenship status should not impede the aspirations of asylees and refugees. The DOJ is determined to hold SpaceX responsible for its illegal hiring practices and to secure relief that allows fair competition and utilization of talents within the company’s workforce.
The DOJ’s legal action calls for several outcomes. It requests that SpaceX ceases and desists from its alleged illegal practices and pays a suitable civil penalty.
Fair Consideration and Hiring Mandated
Additionally, the DOJ demands that SpaceX gives fair consideration to every applicant who identifies as an asylum-seeker or refugee, but was improperly excluded or discouraged from applying. The company is also required to hire qualified applicants who suffered due to alleged discriminatory practices.
Compensation for Affected Individuals
The DOJ goes further, asking for back pay, including interest, and other appropriate compensation for individuals who were qualified, yet suffered wage losses due to denied or delayed employment because of the alleged discriminatory actions mentioned in the lawsuit.