The NLRB has filed a complaint against SpaceX, accusing it of unlawfully firing eight employees for writing a letter criticizing Elon Musk’s social media behavior. The complaint alleges that SpaceX committed an unfair labor practice by firing the workers for engaging in protected concerted activity at work. It also accused SpaceX of interrogating at least one employee about the letter and their colleagues’ identities. Additionally, the complaint stated that SpaceX created an impression of surveillance by showing an employee screenshots of a Signal group chat.
The letter criticized Musk’s “harmful Twitter behavior” before he acquired the website X and raised concerns about crude jokes he made on the platform about sexual misconduct accusations against him. The employees asked the company to hold leadership accountable and condemn harmful behavior. The employees were reprimanded by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell shortly after circulating the letter within the company. Five employees were reportedly fired the next day, and four others were fired over July and August. One of them did not take part in filing the unfair labor practice complaint.
The case is scheduled to go before an administrative judge on March 5, and the company could potentially settle before then. If the NLRB determines that SpaceX violated labor laws, it can order the company to reinstate workers and provide backpay. However, SpaceX could appeal the decision to the board and then to a federal court.
Elon Musk has had disagreements with the NLRB through his other companies in the past. The board previously accused X of illegally firing an employee, while Tesla has faced NLRB complaints for various issues, including allegedly terminating employees in retaliation for union activity.