News (USA)

Elon Musk promoted a frat boy workplace at SpaceX, according to sexual harassment lawsuit

Elon Musk CEO of SpaceX, speaks to the media during a press conference after the Falcon Heavy Launch on Feb 6, 2018, at the Kennedy Space Center, FL.
Elon Musk CEO of SpaceX, speaks to the media during a press conference after the Falcon Heavy Launch on Feb 6, 2018, at the Kennedy Space Center, FL. Photo: Craig Bailey, Florida Today / USA TODAY NETWORK

Elon Musk and his company, SpaceX, are being sued by eight former employees for alleged retaliation after they pushed back against sexual harassment.

“Musk knowingly and purposefully created an unwelcome hostile work environment based upon his conduct of interjecting into the workplace vile sexual photographs, memes, and commentary that demeaned women and/or the LGBTQ+ community,” the filing says.

“Musk’s conduct of interjecting this juvenile, grotesque sexual banter into the workplace had the wholly foreseeable and intentional result of encouraging other employees to engage in similar conduct.”

The lawsuit alleges that Elon Musk encouraged a sexually explicit atmosphere, partially through his public posts on X. These posts are reported to have entered the SpaceX workplace, discussed and shared via email, word of mouth, and internal chats. Official materials from SpaceX also referred to Musk’s account as a source of information regarding the company.

“Several plaintiffs experienced direct harassment that mimicked Musk’s posts, such as showing a phallic symbol with the words ‘up, up, up,’ or making comments about ‘tits,’ which created a wildly uncomfortable hostile work environment,” the suit states.

Examples of these posts include one where Elon Musk tells the former CEO of YouTube to touch Musk’s genitals in exchange for a horse and another discussing sexual arousal in the context of a picture of Microsoft CEO Bill Gates next to an emoji of a pregnant man.

The tweet referencing a horse is likely Musk mocking of an allegation where a former SpaceX flight attendant said that he offered her a horse in exchange for performing sexual acts.

Other posts of Musk’s that were cited include his numerous stances against LGBTQ+ rights. They cite his infamous “pronouns suck” tweet, and another that implies that Pride Month is disastrous.

Musk is known for his hard opposition to LGBTQ+ rights, communicating with anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and pundits like hate influencer Chaya Raichik or former president Donald Trump.

“It was also common for engineers to apply crude and demeaning names to products in an attempt at humor, often at the expense of women and LGBTQ+ individuals. For example, the name ‘Upskirt Camera’ was used for a camera on first [sic] stage of the Falcon rocket that views the bottom of the second stage.”

“The name ‘Fun Tunnel,’ a euphemism for anal sex, was used to refer to a structure on the Dragon vehicle that astronauts use to transfer to the International Space Station.”

The lawsuit further details how management at the company often engaged in sexual harassment as well, making sexual jokes in company training materials, unwanted comments about the plaintiff’s breasts, and even inviting one plaintiff to a sex party. 

Additionally, when confronted with sexual harassment, they allege management failed to take substantiative action and continued to perpetuate the workplace culture. 

The plaintiffs posted an open letter to the company’s intranet addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. All eight plaintiffs contributed to the open letter in some way.

The plaintiffs allege that they were told to “stop flooding employees [sic] communications channels immediately” by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell and three were fired by a human resources representative at the instruction of Musk.

One employee brought this incident up to management, to which Falcon Vice President Jon Edwards responded that they couldn’t do anything about Musk’s behavior, because “SpaceX is Elon and Elon is SpaceX.” The other employees were all subsequently fired after additional investigations by the human resources team.

The suit alleges this occurred in 2022, after many of the ex-employees had worked at the company for several years.

The same group of plaintiffs filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this year, stating that the company’s treatment violated the right of workers to push for better treatment. The complaint has erupted into a legal dispute between the NLRB, who demand that SpaceX apologize. 

This lawsuit comes days after a Wall Street Journal investigation alleging that Elon Musk made sexual and romantic advances on SpaceX employees.

“We need to pursue whatever avenues we can to continue advancing our claims,” Plaintiff Tom Moline, who worked on SpaceX’s Dragon program, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Even Elon, with all his wealth and power, is not above being held accountable, right?”

The plaintiffs in the case are Paige Holland-Thielen, Yaman Abdulhak, Scott Beck, Rebekah Clark, Deborah Lawrence, Claire Mallon, Tom Moline, and André Nadeau. They are represented by Anne B. Shaver of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP and Laurie M. Burgess of Burgess Law Offices, P.C.

The defendants are SpaceX and Elon Musk. The suit is filed in the Central Division Los Angeles County Superior Court of California.

LGBTQ Nation reached out to Musk and SpaceX for comment on this story, however neither responded before publication. This story will be updated accordingly.

Don't forget to share:

Support vital LGBTQ+ journalism

Reader contributions help keep LGBTQ Nation free, so that queer people get the news they need, with stories that mainstream media often leaves out. Can you contribute today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated

Southern Baptists just voted to oppose IVF

Previous article

Anti-“woke” dad accused teachers of “grooming” kids. He got hit with a $20 million lawsuit.

Next article