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Former SpaceX Employees File Lawsuit Against Company–and Elon Musk–Alleging Workplace Sexual Harassment

— June 14, 2024

“Musk thinks he’s above the law,” said Laurie Burgess, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. “Our eight brave clients stood up to him and were fired for doing so.”

Eight former SpaceX employees have filed a lawsuit against the Elon Musk-owned company, claiming its billionaire founder fired them for raising concerns about rampant sexual harassment within the workplace.

According to NBC News, the plaintiffs all lost their jobs in 2022 after circulating an “open letter” that suggested Musk’s “behavior in the public sphere is a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment.”

The letter also claimed that Musk “runs his company in the dark ages—treating women as sexual objects to be evaluated on their bra size, bombarding the workplace with lewd sexual banter, and offering the reprise to those who challenge the ‘Animal House’ environment that if they don’t like it they can seek employment elsewhere.”

The complaint cites multiple instances of Musk making “crude” social media posts, including one that detailed a plan “to create a Texas university similar to MIT, which he would call ‘TITS’ and where ‘Ds [women’s bra size] would get degrees,’ accompanied by an altered photo rendering a rocket to appear to be a giant penis.”

Rocket Launch
Rocket Launch; image courtesy of SpaceX-Imagery via Pixabay,

Attorneys for the eight plaintiffs allege that Musk’s public remarks “had the foreseeable and actual result of offending, causing distress, and intruding upon plaintiffs’ wellbeing so as to disrupt their emotional tranquility in the workplace.”

Several of the women involved in the lawsuit have since claimed that they were victims of sexual harassment. One of them—former SpaceX engineer Paige Holland-Thielen—said that a higher-ranking employee responded to a presentation involving plotted data by making a “sexual allusion to an erect penis,” asking her, “How can we get it up, up, up?”

Rebekah Clark, another former engineer named as a plaintiff, said that she overheard comments “about breasts” shortly after Musk made a somewhat sexual comment on X.

Although Clark says that she reported her concerns, she was told in response that that “SpaceX is Elon, and Elon is SpaceX.”

“Musk thinks he’s above the law,” said Laurie Burgess, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. “Our eight brave clients stood up to him and were fired for doing so.”

“We look forward to holding musk accountable for his actions at trial,” she said.

Although SpaceX has yet to formally respond to media requests for comment, its president—Gwynne Shotwell—recently shared her perspective with The Wall Street Journal, vehemently denying many of the former employees’ accusations and broadly defending Musk’s professionalism.

The lawsuit, Shotwell said, presents “a completely misleading narrative” of SpaceX, adding that “Elon is one of the humans I know.”


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