SpaceX has filed a lawsuit in a federal court in Brownsville, Texas, against the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in an attempt to engage the board in a legal confrontation. The aerospace company was charged by the NLRB of forcibly terminating workers who wrote a letter criticizing CEO Elon Musk, calling him a “distraction and embarrassment.” In its counterattack, SpaceX claims that the federal labor law has been violated and that the NLRB’s structure is illegal.
The NLRB alleges that SpaceX violated labor regulations by firing eight workers in 2022 for signing a letter that accused Musk of making sexist comments contrary to company policies. The case is set to be heard by an administrative judge and subsequently by a five-member board appointed by the U.S. president, with the possibility of appeals in federal court.
SpaceX argues that the NLRB’s organizational structure violates the US Constitution, highlighting the fact that federal law restricts the removal of administrative judges and board members to justifiable reasons. With its complaint, the corporation hopes to put an end to the NLRB case and pave the way for a judicial dispute regarding the labor board’s jurisdiction and authority.
This legal maneuver is not SpaceX’s first attempt to challenge regulatory actions. The company previously employed a similar tactic to impede a case by the U.S. Department of Justice, which claimed SpaceX unlawfully refused to hire refugees and asylum recipients. A federal judge in Brownsville had previously paused an administrative case against SpaceX in November, asserting that administrative judges at the Justice Department must be appointed by the president, not the attorney general.
The NLRB, which is already dealing with legal issues, has not responded to the lawsuit. A Starbucks Corp. employee is also suing the NLRB in a related case, arguing that her petition for an election to dissolve the union at her New York store was denied. The complexity and constitutional issues of labor relations and regulatory bodies in the modern corporate environment are highlighted by these judicial disputes.