SpaceX Sued Over Hiring Discrimination Against Refugees

    SpaceX Sued Over Hiring Discrimination Against Refugees
    Last updated Aug 25, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • In a lawsuit filed Thursday, the US Justice Department (DOJ) accused Elon Musk's SpaceX of violating federal law by refusing to hire foreign nationals who were granted work permits as refugees or asylum seekers.
    • In addition to citizenship-based hiring discrimination, the DOJ has alleged that SpaceX "actively discouraged asylees and refugees from seeking work opportunities at the company" between September 2018 and May 2022.
    • The lawsuit claims that SpaceX falsely promoted the idea that only US citizens and green-card holders could work at Musk's firm due to "restrictive export control laws governing the use of rocket and missile technology."
    • According to the DOJ, specific laws that apply to spacecraft manufacturers — such as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations — limit foreign nationals from accessing sensitive information. However, such regulations don't prevent SpaceX from hiring refugees as they're "on equal footing with US citizens."
    • The DOJ is seeking back pay, fair consideration for asylum seekers and refugees who were denied employment at SpaceX, and civil penalties to ensure the company complies with federal hiring laws.
    • SpaceX was subpoenaed in 2021 over separate allegations of discriminatory hiring. While the company then termed the order "the very definition of government overreach," it hasn't immediately commented on the latest lawsuit.


    Narrative A

    Ignorance of the law is never a defense; either intentionally or not, the company has followed a discriminatory policy in hiring. Refugees and asylum seekers with work permits are of the same status as US citizens, with Elon Musk seemingly promoting a top-down approach where this isn't the case. At best, this was another one of Musk's blunders and, at worst, an act of blatant and illegal xenophobia.

    Narrative B

    This is not the first time the DOJ has launched a nonsensical crusade against Elon Musk and SpaceX. The company is simply practicing due diligence by ensuring foreign nationals don't have access to America's sensitive aeronautical industries. The government has a bone to pick with Musk, with the last hiring case imposing obscene and farcical burdens on the company for no apparent reason.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that at least 175K refugees will be admitted to the US from 2021 to 2024, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

    Articles on this story

    Sign up to our newsletter!