SpaceX, a private rocket company, on Thursday fired employees who helped write and distribute an open letter criticizing the behavior of its chief executive, Elon Musk, three employees familiar with the situation said.
Some SpaceX employees began circulating the letter on Wednesday, condemning Mr Musk’s activity on Twitter. The letter described the billionaire’s public behavior and tweets as a “frequent source of distraction and embarrassment” and called on the company to rein in him. Mr Musk is currently closing a $ 44 billion deal to buy Twitter.
As of Thursday afternoon, SpaceX had fired some of the organizers of the letter, according to an email from three employees and Gwynn Shotwell, president and chief operating officer of SpaceX. In her email, which was obtained by the New York Times, she said the company had “investigated a number of employees involved” with the letter and terminated them.
“Letters, requests and the normal process made employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied and / or angry because the letter forced them to sign something that did not reflect their views,” Ms. Shotwell wrote. “We have a very complex task to accomplish and do not require this kind of over-activation.”
It is not clear how many employees were fired. James Gleason, a spokesman for SpaceX, did not immediately return a request for comment.
The open letter follows allegations made against Mr. Musk of sexual misconduct in the midst of his controversial Twitter acquisition. On Thursday, he addressed Twitter employees for the first time since his takeover offer via video call to answer their questions.
In May, Insider reported that the flight attendant stated that Mr Musk had proposed to her for a sexual massage during a 2016 flight to London. The flight attendant said he also exposed himself to her and offered her a horse, according to the article, details of which were not verified by The Times.
Mr Musk called the allegations “Totally untrue”And joked about horses and their genitals on Twitter. Last month, Ms Shotwell told SpaceX staff in an email that she “personally” believes the allegations of sexual harassment against Mr Musk are false.
On SpaceX, Mr Musk is rarely challenged by his own workers, three employees said on condition of anonymity. He notified the company’s workers via email earlier this month that they should spend at least 40 hours in the office or face firing.
The open letter states that SpaceX leaders “publicly address and condemn Elon’s harmful Twitter behavior” and “define and respond equally to all forms of unacceptable behavior.”
In her email to staff, Ms. Shotwell wrote, “It is unacceptable for the company to repeatedly blanket thousands of people with unsolicited emails and ask them to sign letters and fill out unsolicited surveys during the working day.”
“Please focus on the SpaceX mission and use your time for your best work,” she continued. “This is how we get to Mars.”