The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against SpaceX, alleging the company owned by Elon Musk discriminated against refugees and asylum seekers.
The DOJ said Musk's company discouraged refugees and asylum seekers from applying for jobs. SpaceX is also accused of refusing to hire or consider them based on their citizenship status.
The Immigration and Nationality Act says "it is an unfair immigration-related employment practice for a person or other entity to discriminate against any individual with respect to the hiring, or recruitment or referral for a fee, of the individual for employment or the discharging of the individual from employment" based on their citizenship status. Those in the U.S. illegally are excluded from this workforce protection.
The act says employers cannot discriminate against refugees and asylum seekers in hiring unless a law, regulation, executive order or government contract requires the employer to do so.
The DOJ said SpaceX wrongly claimed it could only hire U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
“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 of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our 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."
From September 2018 through September 2020, the DOJ said SpaceX had only hired U.S. citizens and permanent residents.
The DOJ is asking a federal court to make SpaceX provide back pay for asylees and refugees who were deterred or denied employment at SpaceX due to the alleged discrimination.
Scripps News has contacted SpaceX for its reaction.
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