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Justice Department sues SpaceX over discrimination against refugees, asylum seekers

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The Justice Department sued SpaceX on Thursday alleging the company discriminated against asylees and refugees.

The lawsuit alleges Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, better known as SpaceX, that, from at least September 2018 to May 2022, the company 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.

Billionaire Elon Musk formed SpaceX in 2002 as a private company.

“Our investigation found that SpaceX failed to fairly consider or hire asylees and refugees because of their citizenship status and imposed what amounted to a ban on their hire regardless of their qualification, in violation of federal law,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “Our investigation also found that SpaceX recruiters and high-level officials took actions that actively discouraged asylees and refugees from seeking work opportunities at the company.”

The lawsuit alleges that SpaceX job postings and public statements for several years incorrectly claimed that under federal regulations known as “export control laws,” the company could hire only U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, or “green card holders.”

“Our investigation also found that SpaceX recruiters and high-level officials took actions that actively discouraged asylees and refugees from seeking work opportunities at the company,” Clarke said.

Prosecutors seek fair consideration and back pay for asylees and refugees who were deterred or denied employment. The government also seeks civil penalties, according to the lawsuit.

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