SpaceX fired at least five employees for drafting and circulating a letter criticising founder Elon Musk.
The letter titled ‘an open letter to the Executives of SpaceX’ seen by Reuters, called Musk a ‘distraction and embarrassment’ to the company he founded.
In response, the space company owned by the billionaire, fired employees associated with the letter, as reported by the New York Times.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell sent an email to employees saying the company had investigated and ‘terminated a number of employees involved’ with the letter, said the report.
Shotwell’s email allegedly said that the employees were fired for making other staff feel ‘uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and/or angry because the letter pressured them to sign onto something that did not reflect their views’.
‘We have too much critical work to accomplish and no need for this kind of overreaching activism,’ said Shotwell.
Musk, who is also SpaceX’s chief engineer is seen as the person behind the company’s successes but his staff don’t want to be associated with his public antics.
The open letter at SpaceX, first reported by The Verge, was drafted by employees in recent weeks and shared as an attachment in an internal ‘Morale Boosters’ group chat with thousands of employees.
‘Every Tweet that Elon sends is a de facto public statement by the company,’ said the letter.
The open letter included a list of demands from executives including asking for SpaceX to ‘swiftly and explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand’.
It also urged executives to hold leadership accountable and ‘define and uniformly respond to all forms of unacceptable behavior’.
Musk has recently dominated headlines with the months-long saga of buying Twitter, denouncing remote working and a sexual harassment allegation that he has denied. Shotwell again explicitly defended the billionaire over the misconduct allegations in an email sent to SpaceX employees.