SpaceX said to fire employees involved in letter reprimanding Elon Musk – Chicago Tribune

SpaceX, the private rocket company, on Thursday fired employees who helped write and distribute an open letter criticizing chief executive Elon Musk’s behavior, three employees with knowledge of the situation said.

Some SpaceX employees began circulating the letter, which denounced Musk’s activity on Twitter, on Wednesday. The letter called the billionaire’s public behavior and his tweets a “frequent source of distraction and embarrassment” and asked the company to bring it under control. Musk is currently in 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, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX. 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, the solicitations and the general process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and intimidated and/or angry because the letter caused them to sign something that did not reflect their point of view,” said writes Shotwell. “We have too much critical work to do and we don’t need this kind of excessive activism.”

It is not known how many employees were laid off. James Gleeson, a SpaceX spokesman, did not immediately return a request for comment.

The open letter follows recently publicized accusations of sexual misconduct against Musk amid his controversial acquisition of Twitter. On Thursday, Musk addressed Twitter employees for the first time since his takeover bid via video call to answer their questions.

In May, Insider reported that a flight attendant said Musk offered her a sexual massage on a flight to London in 2016. The flight attendant said he also exposed himself to her and had offered him a horse, according to the article, the details of which have not been independently verified by The Times.

Musk called the accusations “completely untrue” and joked about the horses and his genitals on Twitter. Last month, Shotwell said in an email to SpaceX employees that she “personally” believed the sexual harassment allegations against Musk were false.

Musk, who has previously been sued by a government regulator and individuals for his tweets, founded SpaceX in 2002. Shotwell joined the same year. Musk is also chief executive of Tesla, the electric carmaker.

At SpaceX, Musk is rarely challenged by his own employees, said the three employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Earlier this month, he told company employees via email that they had to spend at least 40 hours in the office or face layoffs.

The open letter about Musk’s online activity called on SpaceX executives to “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful behavior on Twitter” and to “consistently define and respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior.”

In his email to staff, Shotwell wrote: “Swarming thousands of people across the company with repeated unsolicited emails and asking them to sign letters and complete unsponsored surveys during the workday is not acceptable.”

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

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