The United States (US) Department of Justice (DOJ) has alleged that SpaceX is discriminating against asylum seekers and refugees.
According to the DOJ, it filed a lawsuit on August 24, 2023, SpaceX violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) between September 2018 and May 2022, as the company “routinely discouraged asylees and refugees from applying and refused to hire or consider them”.
That was due to their citizenship status, the DOJ said.
Per the INA, “employers cannot discriminate against them in hiring, unless a law, regulation, executive order or government contract requires the employer to do so,” the DOJ said. And while SpaceX works with export-controlled goods, software, technology and data, the US law says that “asylees, refugees, lawful permanent residents, U.S. citizens and U.S. nationals working at U.S. companies can access export-controlled items without authorization from the U.S. government”.
“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, Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said. Clarke also noted that the company’s executives and recruiters “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,” she continued.
The DOJ’s goal with the lawsuit will be to hold SpaceX accountable “for its illegal employment practices and seek relief that allows asylees and refugees to fairly compete for job opportunities and contribute their talents” to SpaceX, Clarke concluded.
Finally, the DOJ invited any asylum seekers or refugees who have applied to the company and been rejected or discouraged from applying by a SpaceX employee to join the case, as well as anyone who had been told by a representative of the company that it only hires US citizens.