SpaceX open letter criticizing Musk led to retaliation, suit claims – USA TODAY

Former SpaceX employees who say they were fired for writing an open letter criticizing the behavior of CEO Elon Musk have filed unfair labor practice charges against the company.
The eight employees filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday, alleging their firings were retaliatory and illegal under the National Labor Relations Act.
“The employees were fired for being part of a larger group that drafted a letter to SpaceX’s executive team expressing concern about recent allegations of sexual harassment by CEO Elon Musk, and his harmful behavior on Twitter that hurt the company’s reputation and also the company culture,” said a statement from the law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, which is representing the employees. 
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Five employees were fired the day after the letter came out in June, and four more were fired over the next couple of months. 
Two employees, Tom Moline and Paige Holland-Thielen, filed charges on their own; the law firm filed charges on behalf of six other employees who wished to remain anonymous. 
According to previous reporting by The New York Times, the open letter shared internally with SpaceX leadership in June said Musk’s behavior online was “a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment.”
Multiple claims about poor culture at SpaceX included a former employee publishing an essay in December that described being harassed and groped by co-workers with no action by the company.
It also contained the revelation that SpaceX paid $250,000 to a company flight attendant in 2018 after she accused Musk of exposing himself and offering her a horse in exchange for sex. 
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Musk took to Twitter to say the flight attendant incident “never happened” and posted jokes about horses and sexual favors. 
The letter called on SpaceX to take appropriate remedial action including condemning Musk’s harmful Twitter behavior and holding leadership accountable, according to the employees’ law firm. 
The letter was shared internally within SpaceX and called for other employees to to endorse the recommendations.
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“We drafted the letter to communicate to the executive staff on their terms and show how their lack of action created tangible barriers to the long-term success of the mission. We never imagined that SpaceX would fire us for trying to help the company succeed,” Holland-Thielen said through her attorneys. 
The labor charges have arrived just as Musk has reportedly been firing critics at Twitter, which he acquired for $44 billion last month before laying off half of the company’s 7,500 employees.
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Additionally, Musk had subordinates comb through internal communications and public tweets and fired dozens of employees who had either publicly or privately criticized him, according to The New York Times.
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