SpaceX fired the employees behind a letter that sharply criticized Elon Musk, reports say

Elon Musk at the 2022 Met Gala.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk at the 2022 Met Gala.Andrew Kelly/Reuters
  • SpaceX employees drew up a letter strongly criticizing CEO Elon Musk, The Verge reported.

  • The New York Times and Reuters report SpaceX fired some organizers behind the letter.

  • COO Gwynne Shotwell called the letter "overreaching activism" in an email seen by The Times.

SpaceX has fired employees who circulated a draft for an open letter, which said CEO Elon Musk's behavior in public is "a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment," according to a New York Times report.

Three SpaceX employees told The Times that the company fired some of the organizers behind the letter on Thursday afternoon.

The Times also reviewed an internal email from SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell, which confirmed the company had "terminated a number of employees involved."

In the email to employees, Shotwell called the letter "overreaching activism" and said the distribution had "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," per The Times.

The Times reported that it wasn't clear how many employees had been fired. Two sources told Reuters SpaceX had fired at least five employees over the letter.

SpaceX did not immediately respond when contacted for comment out of normal US working hours by Insider.

The letter, which was first reported by The Verge, said the company was failing to comply with its own "No Asshole" policy.

The letter also said the company wasn't complying with its zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment. It mentioned "recent allegations against our CEO and his public disparagement of the situation," per The Verge.

The letter did not specify what those allegations were. Insider reported in May that SpaceX paid a former flight attendant $250,000 in 2018 after she accused Musk of sexually harassing her.

Musk said the story was false and has joked about it on Twitter.

The letter said SpaceX should condemn Musk's "harmful Twitter behavior" in order to "separate itself from Elon's personal brand," per The Verge.

Shotwell sent an email to employees in May saying she personally believed the allegation of sexual harassment against Musk to be false because she had "never seen nor heard anything resembling these allegations."

A former SpaceX engineer published an online essay in December 2021 alleging that the company was "rife with sexism."

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