Department of Justice probing SpaceX for hiring discrimination

Department of Justice probing SpaceX for hiring discrimination
The company claims the subpoena is “government overreach”

Elon Musk‘s SpaceX has been ordered by a US district judge to comply with a Department of Justice subpoena probing its hiring practices after the company was accused of discriminating against applicants based on their citizenship status.

CNBC reported that the subpoena was originally filed last October by the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Fabian Hutter, an applicant to SpaceX, claimed his application was denied because he is not American.

Mr Hutter has dual citizenship in Austria and Canada, but is a lawful permanent US resident.

“Specifically, the charge alleges that on or about March 10, 2020, during the Charging Party’s interview for the position of technology strategy associate, SpaceX made inquiries about his citizenship status and ultimately failed to hire him for the position because he is not a US citizen or lawful permanent resident,” DOJ attorney Lisa Sandoval wrote in a court filing in January.

A court order filed in December also revealed that the DOJ has requested documents relating to 3,000 other employees in its investigation into the alleged discriminatory hiring practices.

The DOJ plans to investigate whether the company has engaged in any other discriminatory hiring practices.

The company has been trying to fight the subpoena for months, but the latest ruling will force the company to comply within three weeks.

In April, SpaceX objected to the recommendation made by another federal judge suggesting the company be forced to comply with the subpoena.

That court recommended in March that there are “several” investigations into the company, according to CNBC. It rejected SpaceX’s argument that the subpoena was “government overreach”.

Lawyers for the company argued that the DOJ’s investigation was overkill considering Mr Hutter’s complaint.

“No matter how generously ‘relevance’ is construed in the context of administrative subpoenas, neither the statutory and regulatory authority IER relies on, nor the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, permits IER to rifle through SpaceX’s papers on a whim and absent reasonable justification,” SpaceX said.

The company argued that the investigation was “excessively overbroad”, and that the IER’s subpoena should be denied.

The company claimed that it currently employs “hundreds of non-US citizens” and said it did not hire Mr Hutter for the position because the company eliminated the position.

Under US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, SpaceX is allowed to hire noncitizens who have a green card.