- Insider reported that SpaceX paid a worker to settle a sexual misconduct claim against Musk in 2018.
- But a culture of inappropriate behavior appears to have continued at Musk’s companies.
- Last year alone, Tesla was hit by eight lawsuits alleging sexual harassment.
SpaceX paid $250,000 in 2018 to a contract worker flight attendant so that she wouldn’t sue its billionaire chief Elon Musk over sexual misconduct, Insider’s Rich McHugh reported on Thursday.
Yet three years since that settlement, female employees continue to raise sexual harassment issues at Musk’s companies, SpaceX and Tesla.
“In the past year alone, I have had to bring multiple different incidents of sexism to HR,” former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak said in an essay published in December on Lioness. Kosak said she started as an intern in 2017 and became an engineer in 2019.
But “nothing was done” after she flagged these incidents to HR, she said. The company promised mandatory training about sexual harassment, but “matters of this nature were too private to openly discuss with the perpetrators,” according to Kosak.
“Ultimately, the stress that had mounted from my years of working at SpaceX broke my health down in ways I had never previously experienced,” said Kosak, and she left the company in late November.
It is unclear if Musk was at all involved in or aware of Kosak’s claims.
Insider has reached out to Kosak for comment.
Other claims of sexual harassment at SpaceX occurred as far back as ten years ago, The New York Times reported. A former intern who lived in SpaceX housing said in 2012 that her male housemate invited her male coworker for drinks. The colleague then became drunk and tried to force himself into her bathroom — which she shared with a male housemate — as she was showering, according to The Times.
HR investigated the incident, and the former intern was then told that SpaceX would only allow bathrooms to be shared by people of the same sex, per The Times.
SpaceX is not the only company founded by Musk that faced allegations of sexual misconduct and harsh work conditions.
At Tesla, at least 24 women have sued the carmaker in the past five years, alleging that they were sexually harassed, groped, or even physically assaulted, according to an Insider report in March. Some said they were denied pay raises and promotions, the article added.
In late 2021 alone, Tesla was hit by at least eight lawsuits alleging sexual harassment at the company by female workers, according to reports from Insider and The Washington Post.
Six women filed individual lawsuits on December 14 alleging that Tesla fostered a culture of sexual harassment at its factories, The Post reported.
A few days prior, on December 8, an employee alleged that the carmaker failed to stop “a pattern of continuous and pervasive” sexual harassment and retaliating against her at its Fremont factory, Insider reported.
And in November, a worker sued the company for operating like a “frat house” by subjecting female employees to “rampant sexual harassment.”
It’s unclear if Musk knew about these claims at Tesla previously.
SpaceX and Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comments.