The US Department of Justice is suing Elon Musk’s SpaceX over allegations that it discriminated against asylees and refugees in hiring. In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, the DOJ claims from at least September 2018 to May 2022, SpaceX discouraged refugees and asylees from applying to the company “by wrongly stating that SpaceX can only hire U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.”
The lawsuit states SpaceX “failed to fairly consider” and “refused to hire” the asylees and refugees who ended up applying anyway. It also alleges that SpaceX “wrongly claimed” that the US’s export control laws allowed it to only hire US citizens and lawful residents. Additionally, the DOJ claims SpaceX hired “only” US citizens and green card holders from September 2018 to September 2020.
“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,” Kristen Clarke, the assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, says in a statement.
The DOJ is seeking fair consideration and back pay for asylees and refugees who “were deterred or denied employment” at SpaceX and is also seeking civil penalties in an amount that will be determined in court. In the meantime, the DOJ is encouraging asylees and refugees to contact its Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) if they applied to a job at SpaceX or were discouraged from applying to the company.