(Reuters) – Two people familiar with the matter said that private rocket company SpaceX has fired at least five employees after discovering they wrote and distributed a letter criticizing founder Elon Musk and urging executives to make the company’s culture more inclusive.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The New York Times reported Thursday that SpaceX has fired employees in connection with the letter, citing three employees familiar with the situation. It did not give details of the number of employees who were laid off.
And Gwen Shotwell, president of SpaceX, sent an email saying that the company had investigated and “terminated several associated employees” with the letter, according to the New York Times.
Shotwell’s email said employees involved in issuing the letter had been fired because they had made other employees feel “uncomfortable, intimidated, harassed and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign something that did not reflect their views,” the newspaper said.
Reuters could not independently confirm this report.
The SpaceX letter, titled “An Open Letter to SpaceX Executives” seen by Reuters, described Musk as a “distraction and embarrassment” for the company he founded.
In a list of three demands, it said “SpaceX must quickly and openly distance itself from Elon’s personal brand,” “all leaders take equal responsibility to make SpaceX a great place to work for all,” and “identify and respond uniformly to all forms of unauthorized behavior.” acceptable.
Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla Inc. To make electric cars, he’s made headlines and starred in late-night stand-up comedy in recent months, not least because of his attempt to take over Twitter, his criticism of Democrats and alleged sex allegations. Harassment allegations, which Musk denied in a Twitter message.
The SpaceX open letter, first reported by The Verge, was drafted by SpaceX employees in recent weeks and shared as an attachment to an internal conversation for the “Morale Boosters” group of thousands of employees, one person said. Matters, requests anonymity.
Musk, who is also the company’s chief engineer, is a pivotal figure in many of SpaceX’s notable successes, such as pioneering the reuse of orbital booster rockets and returning routine human spaceflight from US soil after a nine-year hiatus.
Shotwell, who manages much of the company’s day-to-day business, said he would enforce SpaceX’s “zero tolerance” rules against harassment in its workforce.
SpaceX, founded by Musk in 2002, has played a central role in the US space program, becoming the only company capable of launching NASA astronauts into space from US soil and planning to send humans to the moon for the US space agency. the next decade.
SpaceX is also one of two companies the Pentagon depends on to launch most of the US military’s spy satellites into space.