SpaceX allegedly fostered serial sexual abuse, according to this lawsuit

A picture of SpaceX headquarters.
SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, in 2021. | Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP via Getty Images

A SpaceX employee says that she spent seven years working at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California enduring sexual abuse, unequal pay, discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation, in a new lawsuit against the company. But her story paints a much graver picture than those individual words can convey, describing widespread harassment and coordinated action to not only enable but also later give cover for sexual coercion, by a man she says was her direct supervisor.

The employee, Michelle Dopak, also claims that SpaceX’s president and vice president of the company ignored her pleas for action. The details of her complaint are especially grim; while they echo the 2021 stories of five former SpaceX employees and eight women who sued Tesla, another Elon Musk-owned company, the tale seems darker.

Here’s the entire complaint, should you want to read it, but know that it’s a deeply disturbing read.

Content warning: This document contains descriptions of sexual abuse.

Dopak remains employed at SpaceX, where she claims managers are trying to make her quit by forcing her to work 12 hours a day, six days a week, violating her medical accommodation needs.

The lawsuit also claims that SpaceX tried to “coerce and force” her into arbitration, even though federal law has prohibited employers from forcing sexual harassment claims into arbitration since 2022. Tesla was blocked from doing the same thing in 2022.

SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

At the moment, SpaceX is the subject of a proposed class action lawsuit over alleged pay and promotion inequity against women and minors, and in January the company was sued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for firing employees shortly after they wrote an open letter that criticized CEO Elon Musk. SpaceX then sued the NLRB right back, claiming that its lawsuit is unconstitutional. Seven of the ex-employees filed civil rights complaints against SpaceX in February alleging discrimination and sexual harassment.