KEY POINTS

  • SpaceX is accused of discriminating against a non-U.S. citizen during hiring
  • Elon Musk's aerospace company refused to give subpoenaed documents to the Justice Department
  • SpaceX has a history of discrimination complaints 

The Justice Department is investigating Elon Musk’s SpaceX after it was accused of discriminating against non-U.S. citizens in its hiring process. 

Court documents reveal that a non-U.S. citizen filed a complaint at the DOJ's Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER) division alleging that Musk’s aerospace company discriminated against him based on his citizenship status, CNBC reported.

“The charge alleges that on or about March 10, 2020, during the Charging Party’s interview for the position of Technology Strategy Associate, SpaceX made inquiries about his citizenship status and ultimately failed to hire him for the position because he is not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident,” DOJ attorney Lisa Sandoval wrote in a complaint filed Thursday.

The Justice Department informed SpaceX about the probe on June 8, 2020. The IER also requested information and documents related to its hiring practices. 

While the company provided a Form I-9 spreadsheet containing information about its employees dating back to June 2019, it refused to fulfill the IER’s request to produce copies of additional documents, including employee’s passports, driver’s licenses or Social Security cards. 

On Oct. 7, the IER obtained a subpoena against SpaceX, but the company filed a petition with the administrative tribunal to dismiss the subpoena on grounds that it exceeded the scope of the division’s authority.

The tribunal later dismissed the petition and ordered SpaceX to comply. However, the company continued its refusal to produce the documents. 

Musk’s SpaceX has previously been accused of discrimination. In August 2020, Julia Crowley Farenga, a former intern, filed a lawsuit against the company after she was not given a job offer despite working there for three summers. 

In Crowley’s lawsuit, she claimed that she was refused a job offer after she complained about sexual and gender harassment. She also said she had been subjected to discrimination and retaliation at the company. 

Crowley Farenga said her manager would have two-hour one-on-one meetings with her. He was allegedly “possessive and jealous” and made advances toward her. 

“You are unique, I could spend the rest of my life trying to figure you out,” the manager told her, according to the lawsuit.

In 2014, former SpaceX employees filed a lawsuit against the company after it “fostered a racist working environment.” Certain workers were the subject of slurs and were often passed over for promotions.