Seven women are suing billionaire Elon Musk over sexual harassment at his SpaceX company.
While none of the harassment claims are against Musk personally, former female employees assert that his venereal public persona has cultivated a frattish workplace culture at his Tesla factories, where the majority of workers are male.
Musk's aesthetic often involves sexual innuendos, whether it be a "69" joke or referring to inanimate objects as "sexy." As he cultivates a following of young men online, several of his behaviors have influenced the male workers in Tesla factories, many who take jobs at SpaceX out of their admiration for Musk.
In June, before the suits were filed, several Tesla employees penned an open letter that called Musk's behavior "a frequent source of distraction and embarrassment for us." They called for SpaceX to "explicitly separate itself from Elon’s personal brand" to ensure that his actions did not reflect the quality of their work.
In December of 2021, former SpaceX engineer Ashley Kosak, who worked directly with Musk, came forward alleging a toxic work culture that was permissive of sexual harassment. She called Musk's behavior towards workers "sadistic and abusive," and that his messaging permeated throughout the company.
Kosak wrote: “Elon makes promises he doesn’t hold himself accountable to, shifts the goalpost constantly, unnecessarily strips resources from people who are working themselves to the brink of burnout, and then sends threatening messages to remind them that their efforts will never be adequate.”
Now, in a feature by Rolling Stone, the seven women who have filed lawsuits allege that SpaceX Human Resources continuously ignored sexual harassment complaints, leaving the male employees with the idea that their behavior was acceptable.
Several of the women cite experiences of verbal harassment anywhere from inappropriate comments on their bodies, to calling a woman pumping breast milk for her baby a "cow" who is "milking."
“I just wanted to blend in and somehow disappear,” said Alize Brown, who was 21 at the time and taking care of her infant daughter. “I just wanted to do my job and go home. They wouldn’t let me.”
Some of the instances cited in the lawsuits show examples of inappropriate touching, men throwing coins and paper at women to go down their shirts, and even an instance where one was chased in the parking lot while trying to find her car. Women have also reported men taking and circulating nonconsensual photos of them, as well as making sexual comments about their underage daughters.
Eden Mederos reported harassment from her direct supervisor, yet was verbally accosted by him throughout their entire meeting with HR. Despite repeatedly reporting inappropriate behavior to HR, all of the seven women allege they were routinely ignored. A few have reported being moved to undesirable positions after filing their reports.
Mederos revealed that Musk would often come up by name during workplace harassment discussion. She shared the explicit sentiment of the workers: "Well, Elon says it, so why can’t we say any of this stuff?"
Alisa Blickman, another plaintiff, claimed she was fired after bringing forth the complaints. She stated that she took two days of stress leave due to the harassment she experienced, then was let go for missing work.
Blickman also shared that the reason she's suing not just SpaceX, but Musk directly, is because she credits his frat-boy humor with creating the toxic environment.
“There are people in that factory who see him as a god," she explained. "If he talks like that, they know they can, too.”