SpaceX is suing the National Labor Relations Board after the federal agency accused Elon Musk’s company of illegally firing employees who criticized the CEO.
The company’s suit comes a day after the NLRB alleged in a complaint that SpaceX wrongfully terminated eight employees who wrote an open letter in June 2022 listing workplace concerns and calling on executives to publicly condemn Musk’s “disparaging” and “sexually charged” social media comments, which they said negatively affected SpaceX’s reputation and was a frequent source of “distraction and embarrassment.”
Though nine former SpaceX employees filed complaints with the labor agency, eight unfair labor practice charges were consolidated in the NLRB’s filing Wednesday, which also accused the spacecraft and satellite maker of interrogating other employees to deter involvement in the letter and creating the impression that surveillance was being used to monitor employee communications.
The NLRB’s complaint orders SpaceX to attend a hearing before an administrative judge in March if a settlement is not met before then. But in its rebuttal suit Thursday, SpaceX alleges NLRB’s model of proceeding violates the U.S. Constitution’s rules on the separation of powers and the right to a jury trial.
Musk’s company is asking the court to now block the NLRB’s case from moving forward as it works through the allegations of unconstitutionality.
This method of response from SpaceX echoes a similar tactic it used to block another workplace lawsuit from moving forward last year — that time from the Department of Justice.
The DOJ had sued the rocket ship company in August 2023 over allegations it discriminated against refugees and asylum seekers in its hiring process. Then SpaceX countersued, claiming the DOJ’s administrative judges on the case didn’t possess the authority to oversee the suit as they weren’t appointed by the president. A federal judge sided with SpaceX in November.