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15 Dec, 2021 14:10

Whistleblowers claim widespread sexual harassment at SpaceX

Whistleblowers claim widespread sexual harassment at SpaceX

Five ex-employees have alleged sexual harassment at the iconic SpaceX, claiming the work environment is hostile and unresponsive to women, according to two separate reports about the company’s culture.

The former employees insist that the problem received no solid responses from SpaceX’s HR department. 

The initial claim was made in an essay by Ashley Kosak, a former mission integration engineer at the company, saying she couldn’t “stop getting sexually harassed.” Blasting the company’s workplace in a text published on the Lioness website , she declared it’s “in a state of disrepair and dysfunction” that left her with no choice but to leave.

“I reported each incident of sexual harassment I experienced to HR, and nothing was done,” Kosak wrote. Despite stating that, to her knowledge, new SpaceX interns “receive training on how to better report their harassment,” she argued harassers “have still not been held to account.”

The Verge later spoke to four more people who claimed to have been sexually harassed or witnessed cases of such behavior with respect to their colleagues. One whistleblower accused Space X of valuing “the mission over employee wellness,” resulting in the company failing to take “meaningful action taken against individuals who committed acts of sexual harassment.” The former employees also backed a previous comparison of Space X to a “boys’ club”.

SpaceX has not issued a public statement on the allegations. However, The Verge reported a company-wide email sent by Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX, reminding employees that harassment will not be tolerated, and encouraging people to inform superiors if they experience any mistreatment in the workplace. The company also promised to conduct an audit into the matter. 

The latest allegations come over a year after a former SpaceX intern, Julia Crowley-Farenga, filed a lawsuit claiming that the company retaliated against her following a report she made of sexual harassment and gender discrimination. The lawsuit has since “been resolved,” according to Crowley-Farenga. 

Earlier this year, another former employee, a SpaceX engineer called Away Reddy, filed a lawsuit that accused the company of racial discrimination, national origin discrimination, retaliation, and breach of contract. His complaint alleges he suffered “economic loss, mental pain and suffering, extreme emotional stress and loss of ability to lead a normal life” after working at SpaceX.