SpaceX Fires Employees Over ‘Activism’ Letter Criticizing Elon Musk

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Elon Musk is known to be a polarizing character, but according to a new report, a handful of SpaceX employees have been let go for distributing a letter of criticism against the billionaire CEO.

SpaceX fired at least five employees for penning and distributing an open letter criticizing Musk’s behavior, according to three employees familiar with the situation as the New York Times reported on Wednesday (via Reuters).

While it was not clear how many of SpaceX’s employees were fired, President Gwynne Shotwell in an email said the company had investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved” in the letter’s creation and distribution.

“The letter, solicitations and general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views,” wrote Shotwell’s email. “We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism.”

The letter issued three demands, saying, “SpaceX must swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand.” The letter continued, “Hold all leadership equally accountable to making SpaceX a great place to work for everyone,” adding, “define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior.”

Some employees also called Musk a “distraction and embarrassment” in a letter distributed to executives.

“Blanketing thousands of people across the company with repeated unsolicited emails and asking them to sign letters and fill out unsponsored surveys during the work day is not acceptable,” said Shotwell’s email. “Please stay focused on the SpaceX mission, and use your time to do your best work,” adding, “This is how we will get to Mars.”

Musk was accused of sexual misconduct in 2016 with a SpaceX flight attendant last month, and President Shotwell went on to defend him against the claims.

A few days later, Musk said on Twitter that his other company, Tesla, would be hiring for a new “hardcore litigation department.”

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