DOJ is investigating SpaceX after closing a discrimination criticism

A Falcon 9 rocket will launch the Transporter 1 mission in January 2021.


The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating SpaceX whether the company discriminates against non-U.S. Residents in its hiring practices, and said Elon Musk’s company is blocking a subpoena for information, court documents revealed Thursday.

The DOJ’s Immigration and Workers Rights Department received a workplace discrimination complaint from a non-US citizen alleging that the company discriminated against him on the basis of his citizenship status.

Prosecution assumes that SpaceX asked for his citizenship status on or about March 10, 2020 during the prosecution interview for the position of Technology Strategy Associate and ultimately did not hire him for the position because he is not a US citizen or legal permanent residence, “wrote DOJ attorney Lisa Sandoval in a court document filed Thursday. The document was a request for a judge to order SpaceX to comply with an administrative subpoena for documents related to the company’s discontinuation.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. The Justice Department declined to comment.

SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles, California.

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The Department of Immigrant and Workers’ Rights (IER) emailed SpaceX on June 8 that it had opened an investigation and asked SpaceX to provide information and documents related to the recruitment and employability review procedures .

The filing states that SpaceX responded in August and sent the DOJ a Table I-9 with information about employees from June 2019. However, SpaceX declined the DOJ’s request to “provide Form I-9 records such as copies of employees”. Passports, driver’s licenses or social security cards, “wrote Sandoval.

IER then received a subpoena on October 7, but SpaceX refused to provide the subpoenaed documents.

SpaceX petitioned the DOJ Administrative Court to dismiss the subpoena on the grounds that it exceeded the scope of the IER’s powers. However, that petition was denied and SpaceX was asked to comply. According to the IER, SpaceX confirmed the order on Dec. 11, but informed IER that “no additional information should be provided in response to the administrative subpoena”.

The IER argued that the cited documents are relevant because they would show the extent to which SpaceX is hiring non-US citizens and that this is not an onerous request, although SpaceX has told the IER that each document would have to be retrieved manually.

The Justice Department requests the court to request SpaceX to comply with the subpoena within two weeks.

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