The federal government has launched a probe into SpaceX after a man who is not a lawful permanent resident of the United States complained when he was passed over for a job with the California rocket maker.
CNBC reports, “The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating SpaceX over whether the company discriminates against non-U.S. citizens in its hiring practices and said Elon Musk’s company is stonewalling a subpoena for information, court documents revealed Thursday.”
According to CNBC, “The DOJ’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section received a complaint of employment discrimination from a non-U.S. citizen claiming that the company discriminated against him based on his citizenship status.”
SpaceX has been awarded several contracts by the federal government, mostly from NASA and the Department of Defense, including national security missions.
An attorney with the Justice Department said SpaceX has refused to provide documents about its employees, such as copies of Social Security cards, passports, and driver licenses, even after the information had been subpoenaed.
In a court document filed in the United States District Court for the central district of California, the feds requested a judge order SpaceX to comply with the administrative subpoena within two weeks.
The filing indicated the DOJ began looking into the aerospace company last year after receiving the complaint in May.
“The charge alleges that on or about March 10, 2020, during the Charging Party’s interview for the position of Technology Strategy Associate, SpaceX made inquiries about his citizenship status and ultimately failed to hire him for the position because he is not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident,” wrote DOJ attorney Lisa Sandoval in the court document.
The DOJ’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) reportedly said it notified SpaceX about the probe in June via email and had requested the company turn over the employment data then. The letter indicated that the investigation “may also explore whether [SpaceX] engages in any pattern or practice of discrimination” prohibited by law.
The company responded in August, according to the court filing, sending a Form I-9 spreadsheet but without the requested supporting documentation. IER obtained a subpoena in October.
BREAKING – The DOJ is investigating SpaceX over whether it engages in "any pattern or practice of discrimination" in its hiring after a complaint last year.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. SPACE EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGIES CORP: https://t.co/YjjxKeoesr
— Michael Sheetz (@thesheetztweetz) January 28, 2021
More details from CNBC:
SpaceX filed a petition with a DOJ administrative tribunal to dismiss the subpoena on grounds that it exceeded the scope of IER’s authority, but that petition was denied, and SpaceX was ordered to comply. IER said SpaceX on Dec. 11 acknowledged the order but told IER “that it ‘does not intend to produce any additional information in response to the administrative subpoena.’”
In the court filing, Sandoval said the subpoenaed documents are “highly relevant because they demonstrate, among other things, the extent to which SpaceX hires non-U.S. citizens and may reveal whether or not it is engaging in a pattern of not hiring them due to their citizenship status.”
She continued: “The documents also enable IER to identify potential victims of citizenship status discrimination and reveal trends in document collection during the employment eligibility verification process that may support an unfair documentary practices claim, which may not be apparent on the Forms I-9 themselves.”
Both the DOJ and SpaceX have declined media requests for further comment.