Elon Musk’s reckless tweeting has once again come back to bite him.
The Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against SpaceX on Wednesday, alleging that the company discriminated against refugees and asylees. And it cited one of Musk’s own tweets as proof.
In June 2020, Musk tweeted that “US law requires at least a green card to be hired at SpaceX, as rockets are considered advanced weapons technology.”
The lawsuit lists this tweet as just one of a few public discriminatory statements that SpaceX’s CEO has made over the years. The lawsuit alleges that these public statements were intended to discourage refugees and asylees from applying to SpaceX. Those who did end up applying were not fairly considered, according to the lawsuit.
According to the suit, SpaceX repeatedly wrongly stated in job postings and public statements that the company could “only hire U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents” from at least September 2018 to May 2022.
The lawsuit also alleges that SpaceX “wrongly claimed” that U.S. export laws prevented it from hiring refugees and asylees. “Export control laws and regulations do not prohibit or restrict employers from hiring asylees and refugees; those laws treat asylees and refugees just like U.S. citizens,” the lawsuit says.
The investigation into discrimination was launched in May 2020 by the Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights section, but was stalled significantly by SpaceX’s unwillingness to cooperate. SpaceX tried to slow down the DOJ’s investigation and only provided requested documents a full year after they were first requested.