A Falcon 9 rocket is displayed outside the Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) headquarters on January 28, 2021 in Hawthorne, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

The US Justice Department filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing SpaceX Elon Musk’s Space company discriminated against refugees and asylum seekers in its hiring processes in the US

The lawsuit states that between 2018 and 2022, SpaceX “falsely claimed” that export control laws limited its recruitment to US citizens and lawful permanent residents.

DOJ has been investigating SpaceX since June 2020When the Department’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section received a complaint of employment discrimination from a non-US citizen.

“Our investigation found that SpaceX failed to appropriately consider or hire refugees and asylum seekers because of their citizenship status and prohibited their hiring regardless of their qualifications, in violation of federal law ,” Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.

Clark said the DOJ’s investigation found that “SpaceX recruiters and high-level executives took actions that actively discouraged refugees and asylum seekers from seeking work opportunities at the company.”

According to data provided by SpaceX, the DOJ said that over nearly four periods and more than 10,000 hirings, the company hired “only one person who was a refugee and identified as such on his or her application.” Was.”

That only appointment comes nearly four months after the DOJ informed SpaceX about its investigation.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. The lawsuit was filed in the Executive Office of Immigration Review, a division of the DOJ that adjudicates immigration cases.

DOJ lawsuit seeks to win “fair consideration and back pay for asylum seekers and refugees who were denied or denied employment at SpaceX due to alleged discrimination”, as well as securing civil penalties and policy changes from the company.

In 2021, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section of the DOJ alleged that SpaceX was withholding a subpoena related to its investigation and asked a judge to order that SpaceX block its requests for documents related to how the company operates. Comply with SpaceX filed a petition with the DOJ Administrative Tribunal to dismiss the subpoena on the grounds that it exceeded the IER’s authority, but that petition was denied.

The IER launched its investigation after a man named Fabian Hutter complained that SpaceX discriminated against him in March 2020 when he was asked about his citizenship status during a job interview for a technical strategy associate position.

Hutter is not a US citizen, but he is a “lawful permanent resident,” according to a document filed by SpaceX in response to a DOJ subpoena in 2021. [U.S.] A resident of dual citizenship of Austria and Canada.”

Hutter did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

Read the DOJ’s lawsuit below:

— CNBC’s Dan Mangan contributed to this report.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct that the US Department of Justice has sued SpaceX, alleging the company discriminated against refugees and asylum seekers in the US in its hiring practices Is. A previous version misstated the nature of the alleged infringement.

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