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Wed, Sep 20, 2023

SpaceX Countersues Biden DOJ

What Is DOJ Thinking... Really?

SpaceX is fighting a puzzling lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), which alleges the world’s leading private space-launch concern maintains discriminatory hiring practices. SpaceX asserts the DOJ’s lawsuit is unconstitutional and has responded to such with a compelling countersuit.

On 24 August 2023, the Biden DOJ set forth: “The lawsuit alleges that, from at least September 2018 to May 2022, SpaceX routinely discouraged asylees and refugees from applying and refused to hire or consider them, because of their citizenship status, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” the Justice Department said in a statement.

The Department added: “In job postings and public statements over several years, SpaceX wrongly claimed that under federal regulations known as ‘export control laws,’ SpaceX could hire only U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, sometimes referred to as ‘green card holders.”

The cited laws bar foreign persons from being given access to export-controlled items without approval from the State Department or Department of Commerce, but permits U.S. persons including citizens, residents, refugees and asylum seekers—so states the DOJ lawsuit.

Immigrants “had virtually no chance of being fairly considered or hired for a job at SpaceX,” the lawsuit states, contending SpaceX’s “hiring practices were routine, widespread, and longstanding, and harmed asylees and refugees.”

The Justice Department also characterized social media posts made by SpaceX owner Elon Musk as examples of “discriminatory public statements.”

The lawsuit cited a June 2020 post on X, formerly called Twitter, in which Musk wrote: “U.S. law requires at least a green card to be hired at SpaceX, as rockets are advanced weapons technology.”

The suit notes Musk, at a 2016 international conference, stated SpaceX hires require “special permission from the Secretary of Defense or Secretary of State” to comply with International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

Several recruiters also allegedly cited the law to reject applicants. Between 2018 and 2022, SpaceX hired just one asylum seeker — four months after the Justice Department began investigating the company.

Federal agencies such as NASA have awarded SpaceX billions of dollars in contracts for communications and satellite technologies.

In response to the DOJ’s allegations, SpaceX has filed its own lawsuit. In the lawsuit, filed Friday, 15 September, the space-launch company asserted the accusations levied by the Biden DOJ are “factually and legally insupportable.” SpaceX maintains the company’s goal vis-à-vis staffing has been and remains to employ the most qualified candidates for every position, regardless of citizenship, race, or socio-political status.

SpaceX emphasized the large number of non-U.S. citizens hired by the company to date, thereby definitively contradicting the Biden DOJ’s claims.

Additionally, SpaceX has challenged the constitutionality of the DOJ’s lawsuit, arguing the administrative judge who presided over the initial lawsuit was “unconstitutionally appointed.” The company further averred its right to a jury trial is being infringed upon.

U.S. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who heads the Justice Department’s ironically designated Office of Civil Rights, brought the SpaceX suit following an investigation by the division’s Immigration and Employee Rights Section.

Clarke has disparaged Musk for his immense wealth. Clarke declared: “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.”

Clarke claimed, also, that SpaceX recruiters and high-level officials “actively discouraged” asylum seekers and refugees from seeking work opportunities at the company.

The DOJ stated the United States seeks “fair consideration and back pay” for asylum seekers and refugees ostensibly deterred or denied employment at SpaceX due to the alleged discrimination.

The DOJ lawsuit also seeks civil penalties in an amount to be determined by court and policy changes to ensure SpaceX complies with the federal non-discrimination mandate going forward.

A court hearing date for the ongoing legal battle has yet to be scheduled.

FMI: www.spacex.com

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