SpaceX, the aerospace company responsible for rockets and satellites, has taken legal action against the US Labor Board following allegations from an employee that the company violated federal workplace laws. The accusation suggests that SpaceX unlawfully terminated employees who circulated a letter criticizing CEO Elon Musk, wherein he was labeled a “distraction and embarrassment.” SpaceX contends that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the agency behind the complaint, has an unconstitutional structure.
The NLRB asserts that SpaceX breached federal law in 2022 by unjustly firing eight workers who had signed the critical letter. Furthermore, Elon Musk is accused of violating company policy by making sexist remarks. The case is slated to go through an administrative judge and a five-member board appointed by the US president. The decision reached can subsequently be contested in federal court. SpaceX’s legal challenge argues that federal law permits the removal of administrative judges and board members only for cause, not at will, rendering the NLRB unconstitutional. The lawsuit’s objective is to halt the NLRB’s progression of the case.
Remarkably, SpaceX has employed a similar tactic previously to thwart a case brought against the company by the US Department of Justice. Employing this strategy, SpaceX successfully halted a case accusing them of refusing to hire refugees and asylum beneficiaries. A federal judge in Brownsville suspended the case, citing the significance of the U.S. Constitution, which mandates that administrative judges at the Justice Department be appointed by the president, not the attorney general.
In a parallel development, the NLRB is confronting a lawsuit akin to SpaceX’s situation, filed by a Starbucks employee. In October, she took legal action against the board after her request to oppose the unionization of a New York store was denied. The board rejected her appeal to conduct an election to dissolve the union. Notably, the NLRB has not yet formally acknowledged this particular lawsuit.