San Francisco, Dec 15 (IANS) Five former employees at tech billionaire Elon Musk’s space firm SpaceX have come forward to speak out about the sexual harassment they faced in the company and how managers and the human resources department their handled complaints poorly, as per media reports.
This comes on the heels of six more women filing separate lawsuits against Musk’s electric car company Tesla, in the US, for rampant sexually harassment at the workplace. Two other women had filed sexual harassment lawsuit in the US – two within a month’s time.
One former employee Ashley Kosak, who left SpaceX in November, wrote of her experiences at the rocket company in an essay that was published in Lioness – a platform for whistleblowers to report on workplace misconduct, the report said. She worked as a build reliability engineer in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
In the essay account, Kosak detailed multiple instances of being groped and feeling uncomfortable after fending off sexual advances by her male co-workers. She also wrote how despite several complaints to the HR, the matter was ignored. The other four former employees said they faced similar experiences at the company.
They shared their own troubling experiences at SpaceX or witnessing other women and non-binary people being harassed with The Verge. Shockingly, in three cases, SpaceX HR was made aware of the allegations and had inconsistent responses that the employees felt were inadequate, the report said.
“SpaceX, as an organisation, values the mission over employee wellness to the extent that I never saw meaningful action taken against individuals who committed acts of sexual harassment,” one former employee was quoted as saying.
She added that SpaceX’s lack of action was possibly driven by management’s desire to avoid work disruptions and the company reluctance to hold some men accountable for bad behaviour
With the essay, Kosak aims to put out the message that will also help others in the space industry realise that any harassment they might be experiencing should not be tolerated.
“I think until someone finally says, ‘This is unacceptable,’ you find a way mentally to accept that it’s okay,” Kosak was quoted as saying to The Verge.
“I hope that this essay helps bring to light that a lot of behaviours that are happening out there are not okay.”
In view of the essay, SpaceX has sent a company-wide email to SpaceX employees, reminding them of the company’s “no A-hole” policy and that harassment will not be tolerated, the report said.
“Timely reporting of harassment is key to our maintaining SpaceX as a great place to work; we can’t fix what we don’t know,” Gwynne Shotwell, president and COO of SpaceX wrote in the email.
She also encouraged people to report any harassment they might experience, the report said.
Meanwhile Musk, who is CEO of SpaceX as well as Tesla has been chosen as the Time’s ‘person of the year’.
But the magazine’s decision has been criticised because of Musk’s attitude towards taxes, opposition to unions, and playing down the dangers of Covid-19, The Guardian reported.