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Elon Musk Sued for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination by Former SpaceX Employees

Former SpaceX Employees Sue Elon Musk for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
Elon Musk. Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Eight former SpaceX employees have filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the aerospace company and its CEO Elon Musk.

In the Wednesday, June 12, filing obtained by Us Weekly, the ex-employees allege that Musk ran a workplace that “[treated] women as sexual objects to be evaluated on their bra size.” In addition to the sexual harassment claim, the lawsuit accuses SpaceX and Musk of discrimination, wrongful termination, whistleblower retaliation and unlawful business practices.

“[Musk] trumpets Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (“SpaceX”) as the leader to a brave new world of space travel, but runs his company in the dark ages … bombarding the workplace with lewd sexual banter and offering the reprise to those who challenge the Animal House environment that if they don’t like it they can seek employment elsewhere,” the lawsuit alleges.

The eight former SpaceX employees — Paige Holland-Thielen, Yaman Abdulhak, Scott Beck, Rebekah Clark, Deborah Lawrence, Claire Mallon, Tom Moline and André Nadeau — claim that they challenged the alleged toxic workplace environment in an open letter to management and were then fired from SpaceX.

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“Upon information and belief, Defendant Musk personally ordered the Plaintiffs’ terminations,” the lawsuit claims.

Musk, 52, who bought Twitter and rebranded it as X in 2022, has also been accused of “knowingly and purposefully” creating “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.”

Former SpaceX Employees Sue Elon Musk for Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
Hannibal Hanschke-Pool/Getty Images

The lawsuit cites several examples of Musk’s eyebrow-raising tweets, including his infamous “Pronouns suck” post and the time he shared a photo comparing Bill Gates to the pregnant man emoji with the caption, “In case u need to lose a boner fast.”

The former SpaceX employees claim that Musk’s controversial tweets “immediately permeated” the workplace to the point that “employees could not escape seeing them or hearing about them” at work.

“Musk also intentionally drew employee attention to his Twitter feed by frequently using the account to report out company news. For instance, Musk’s idea for ‘TITS’ university was announced in the midst of reporting on a successful rocket launch,” the filing claims. “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.”

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The alleged “pervasively sexist culture” of SpaceX was further perpetuated by the “common” practice of engineers applying “crude and demeaning names to products in an attempt at humor, often at the expense of women and LGBTQ+ individuals,” the lawsuit claims.

“The name ‘Upskirt Camera’ was used for a camera on first stage of the Falcon rocket that views the bottom of the second stage,” the filing alleges, further claiming that “Fun Tunnel,” a euphemism for anal sex, and “B-plugs,” a euphemism for anal sex toys, were used to describe other products.

Us Weekly has reached out to Musk’s team for comment.

The new lawsuit is not the first time Musk has come under fire for sexual misconduct allegations. In May 2022, Business Insider reported that SpaceX had settled a claim with a former SpaceX flight attendant who accused Musk of exposing himself to her on his private jet in 2016 and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage.

Musk reacted to the claims via X after the report was published.

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“The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens — this is their standard (despicable) playbook — but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech,” he wrote at the time.

Those allegations reappeared in Wednesday’s lawsuit, with the eight former SpaceX employees claiming that SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell “issued a company-wide email supporting Musk and insisting that the anonymous complainant was lying” at the time.

“Plaintiffs were aghast at SpaceX’s formal response to the allegations of Musk’s sexual harassment — calling out and castigating the alleged victim — as this response obviously undermined, rather than affirmed, employees’ right to be free from sexual harassment,” the filing reads.

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