The DOJ Has Opened an Investigation into SpaceX for Alleged Hiring Discrimination

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

The DOJ Has Opened an Investigation into SpaceX for Alleged Hiring Discrimination
Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether Elon Musk's SpaceX discriminates based on citizenship status, according to court documents filed Thursday.

The DOJ is asking a federal judge in Los Angeles to order SpaceX to turn over Form 9 documents, which show an employee's citizenship status, within two weeks. It comes after the rocketship maker ignored the DOJ's subpoenas filed for the documents last year.


The forms could "demonstrate, among other things, the extent to which SpaceX hires non-U.S. citizens and may reveal whether or not it is engaging in a pattern of not hiring them due to their citizenship status," federal lawyers argued in court filings.

The inquiry was prompted by a complaint filed with the DOJ's Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, or IER, in May of 2020 from a non-U.S. citizen. He alleged that during his interview for a technology strategy associate job, SpaceX "made inquiries about his citizenship status and ultimately failed to hire him for the position because he is not a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident," DOJ attorney Lisa Sandoval wrote.

Neither SpaceX nor the Department of Justice responded immediately for comment.

The company, run by the South African-born billionaire, reportedly hit a $60 billion valuation this week after a new round of funding. Musk, the world's richest man, has been at the center of the GameStop controversy after he tweeted a link to the Reddit forum with the word "Gamestonk!!"

The IER said it notified Hawthorne-based SpaceX of the open investigation and requested any documents and information related to its hiring processes. After a series of extensions, the company returned a spreadsheet with Form-9 data collected since June 2019.

But Sandoval wrote that the company failed to disclose the requested Form 9 documentation, including copies of employees' passports, driver's licenses or Social Security cards.

"Indeed, it is hard to imagine information more relevant to an unfair documentary practices investigation (which typically involves an employer asking new hires for more documents than necessary to complete the Form I-9 due to their citizenship status) than the Form I-9 supporting documentation of recent hires," she added.

The IER obtained a subpoena on Oct. 7, 2020 but SpaceX did not comply.

Weeks later, SpaceX filed a petition to revoke the subpoena — on the basis that it fell beyond the scope of the IER's authority — but the request was denied. The company said it "does not intend to produce any additional information in response to the administrative subpoena," according to court documents.

Meanwhile, the DOJ claims that SpaceX "cannot demonstrate that it (the subpoena) is either overbroad or unduly burdensome."

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Greater Good Health Raises $10 Million To Fix America’s Doctor Shortage

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

Greater Good Health Raises $10 Million To Fix America’s Doctor Shortage
Courtesy of Greater Good Health

The pandemic highlighted what’s been a growing trend for years: Medical students are prioritizing high-paying specialty fields over primary care, leading to a shortage of primary care doctors who take care of a patient’s day-to-day health concerns. These physicians are a cornerstone of preventative health care, which when addressed can lower health care costs for patients, insurers and the government. But there’s a massive shortage of doctors all over the country, and the pipeline for primary care physicians is even weaker.

One local startup is offering a possible answer to this supply squeeze: nurse practitioners.

On Wednesday, Manhattan Beach-based Greater Good Health unveiled a $10 million Series A funding round led by LRVHealth, which adds to the startup’s $3 million seed round last year. The company employs nurse practitioners and pairs them with doctor’s offices and medical clinics; this allows nurse practitioners to take on patients who would otherwise have to wait weeks, or even months, to see a doctor.

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Minnie Ingersoll
Minnie Ingersoll is a partner at TenOneTen and host of the LA Venture podcast. Prior to TenOneTen, Minnie was the COO and co-founder of $100M+ Shift.com, an online marketplace for used cars. Minnie started her career as an early product manager at Google. Minnie studied Computer Science at Stanford and has an MBA from HBS. She recently moved back to L.A. after 20+ years in the Bay Area and is excited to be a part of the growing tech ecosystem of Southern California. In her space time, Minnie surfs baby waves and raises baby people.
PLUS Capital​’s Amanda Groves.
Courtesy of Amanda Groves.

On this episode of the L.A. Venture podcast, Amanda Groves talks about how PLUS Capital advises celebrity investors and why more high-profile individuals are choosing to invest instead of endorse.

As a partner at PLUS, Groves works with over 70 artists and athletes, helping to guide their investment strategies. PLUS advises their talent roster to combine their financial capital with their social capital and focus on five investment areas: the future of work, future of education, health and wellness, the conscious consumer and sustainability.

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