Engineers Sue Musk, SpaceX for Creating a ‘Pervasively Sexist Culture’

The suit comes a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Musk engaged in ‘boundary-blurring relationships’ with some of his female employees.

AP/Jae C. Hong
Elon Musk AP/Jae C. Hong

Engineers are suing SpaceX and its chief executive, Elon Musk, on the grounds he fostered a “pervasively sexist culture” at the company and that they were wrongfully fired after speaking out against it.

The lawsuit, filed in state court at Los Angeles on Wednesday, alleges that Space X ignored complaints about repeated incidents of sexual harassment and discrimination against women employees. “These actions,” the suit asserts, “had the foreseeable and actual result of offending, causing distress, and intruding upon Plaintiffs’ well-being so as to disrupt their emotional tranquility in the workplace.”

The engineers, four women and four men, argue that Mr. Musk fired them in 2022 after they drafted and circulated a letter to executives calling him a “distraction and embarrassment” to the company. The letter cited a series of sexually suggestive tweets Mr. Musk posted since 2020 which they say did not align with the company’s own policies on diversity and workplace misconduct. 

The engineers are seeking compensatory and punitive damages and a court order that stops SpaceX from continuing its retaliatory conduct that they say violates California law. That represents an escalation of the unfair labor practice charges they filed with the National Labor Relations Board in 2022. 

The suit comes a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Musk engaged in “boundary-blurring relationships” with his employees. The report says that the tech titan had a sexual relationship with a former SpaceX engineering intern, who he later brought onto his executive team. 

He allegedly had sexual relationships with two other employees. When one of them refused his repeated requests to have his children, he subsequently denied her a raise and criticized her work performance.

SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, Gwynne Shotwell, told the Journal that its reporting paints “a completely misleading narrative,” and that “Elon is one of the best humans I know.”

SpaceX has also denied the accusations outlined in the engineers’ lawsuit and argued that they were properly fired for violating company policies.


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