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SpaceX Sacks Employees Who Wrote Letter Criticizing Elon Musk

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SpaceX has sacked some employees who wrote open letter criticizing the company’s chief executive officer, Elon Musk.

A letter by SpaceX’s president said the company fired the employees for spearheading a letter that made other employees feel uncomfortable.”

SpaceX’s president, Gwynne Shotwell, said in an email to staff members that the letter also made other employees feel “intimidated and bullied.”

The employees had helped write and distribute an open letter criticizing the behavior of Elon Musk.

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At least, three of the employees were sacked by the company on Thursday, The New York  Times confirmed in a post.

Some SpaceX employees began circulating the letter, which denounced Mr. Musk’s activity on Twitter, on Wednesday.

The letter called the billionaire’s public behavior and tweeting “a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment” and asked the company to rein him in.

Mr. Musk is currently closing a $44 billion deal to buy Twitter.

By Thursday afternoon, SpaceX had fired some of the letter’s organizers, according to the three employees and an email from Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer.

In her email, which was obtained by The New York Times, she said the company had investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved” with the letter.

“The letter, solicitations and general process 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,” Ms. Shotwell wrote.

“We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism.”

It was unclear how many employees had been fired. James Gleeson, a SpaceX spokesman, did not immediately return a request for comment.

The open letter followed recently publicized accusations of sexual misconduct against Mr. Musk amid his contentious acquisition of Twitter.

On Thursday, he addressed Twitter employees for the first time since his takeover offer via a video call to answer their questions.

In May, Insider reported that a flight attendant said had Mr. Musk propositioned her for a sexual massage during a flight to London in 2016.

The flight attendant said he had also exposed himself to her and offered her a horse, according to the article, the details of which were not verified by The Times.

Mr. Musk called the accusations “utterly untrue” and joked about horses and his genitalia on Twitter.

Last month, Ms. Shotwell said in an email to SpaceX employees that she “personally” believed the sexual harassment allegations against Mr. Musk were false.

Mr. Musk, who has previously been sued by a government regulator and private individuals for his tweets, founded SpaceX in 2002.

Ms. Shotwell joined that same year. Mr. Musk is also chief executive of Tesla, the electric automaker.

At SpaceX, Mr. Musk is rarely challenged by his own workers, said the three employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

He notified the company’s workers via email this month that they must spend at least 40 hours in the office or face firing.

The open letter asked that SpaceX’s leaders “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior” and “define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior.”

In her email to staff, Ms. Shotwell wrote, “Blanketing thousands of people across the company with repeated unsolicited emails and asking them to sign letters and fill out unsponsored surveys during the work day is not acceptable.”

“Please stay focused on the SpaceX mission, and use your time to do your best work,” she continued. “This is how we will get to Mars.”


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