The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has sued Elon Musk-run SpaceX for discriminating against asylees and refugees in hiring. The lawsuit alleged that, from at least September 2018 to May 2022, SpaceX routinely discouraged asylees and refugees from applying and refused to hire or consider them, because of their citizenship status, in violation of the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). In job postings and public statements over several years, SpaceX wrongly claimed that under federal regulations known as “export control laws,” SpaceX could hire only US citizens and lawful permanent residents, sometimes referred to as “green card holders”, the DoJ lawsuit alleged.
“Our investigation found that SpaceX failed to fairly consider or hire asylees and refugees because of their citizenship status and imposed what amounted to a ban on their hire regardless of their qualification, in violation of federal law,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke. The investigation also found that SpaceX recruiters and high-level officials took actions that actively discouraged asylees and refugees from seeking work opportunities at the company. “Asylees and refugees have overcome many obstacles in their lives, and unlawful employment discrimination based on their citizenship status should not be one of them,” Clarke added. The department’s lawsuit alleged that SpaceX discriminated against asylees and refugees based on citizenship status at multiple stages of the hiring process.
“SpaceX discouraged asylees and refugees from applying for open positions, through public announcements, job applications and other online recruiting communications that excluded asylees and refugees. SpaceX failed to fairly consider applications submitted by asylees and refugees,” the lawsuit read. SpaceX also refused to hire qualified asylee and refugee applicants and repeatedly rejected asylee and refugee applicants because of their citizenship status. SpaceX hired only US citizens and lawful permanent residents, from September 2018 to September 2020. The US seeks fair consideration and back pay for asylees and refugees who were deterred or denied employment at SpaceX due to the alleged discrimination.