The Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit on August 24, 2023, against Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) for discriminating against asylees and refugees in hiring. The lawsuit alleges that from at least September 2018 to May 2022, SpaceX routinely discouraged asylees and refugees from applying and refused to hire or consider them because of their citizenship status, in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

DOJ noted that SpaceX “recruits and hires for a variety of positions, including welders, cooks, crane operators, baristas and dishwashers, as well as information technology specialists, software engineers, business analysts, rocket engineers and marketing professionals. The jobs at issue in the lawsuit are not limited to those that require advanced degrees.” DOJ alleged that in job postings and public statements over several years, “SpaceX wrongly claimed that under federal regulations known as ‘export control laws,’ SpaceX could hire only U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.” DOJ explained that export control laws “impose no such hiring restrictions. Moreover, asylees’ and refugees’ permission to live and work in the United States does not expire, and they stand on equal footing with U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents under export control laws.”

DOJ said it seeks “fair consideration and back pay for asylees and refugees who were deterred or denied employment at SpaceX due to the alleged discrimination.” The agency also seeks civil penalties in an amount to be determined by the court and policy changes. DOJ invites affected people to contact the agency’s Civil Rights Division’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) at or 1-888-473-3845. 

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