Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus convallis sem tellus, vitae egestas felis vestibule ut.

Error message details.

Reuse Permissions

Request permission to republish or redistribute SHRM content and materials.

SpaceX Challenges Constitutional Authority of NLRB

SpaceX office building

SpaceX sued the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), claiming the agency is unconstitutional because its administrative law judges can only be fired for cause. The company asked a federal judge on Jan. 4 to cancel an NLRB administrative hearing into whether the company illegally fired employees for releasing a letter criticizing its CEO, Elon Musk.

SpaceX is a spacecraft manufacturer, defense contractor and satellite communications company headquartered in Hawthorne, Calif., with about 12,000 employees. It did not respond to a request for comment. We’ve gathered a group of articles on the news from SHRM Online and other trusted sources.

Challenging NLRB Authority

SpaceX alleged the NLRB’s courts are unconstitutional, and the agency should be prohibited from taking enforcement actions. If successful, the suit would throw the NLRB’s authority into chaos.

The lawsuit takes issue with the NLRB’s five-member board, arguing that its members are too difficult for a president to remove, despite the substantial executive power extended to them to carry out the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).

NLRB prosecutors recently issued a complaint against SpaceX, accusing it of illegally firing eight employees who circulated a letter in 2022 criticizing Musk for inappropriate, disparaging and sexually charged comments on X, formerly Twitter, which Musk also owns.


NLRB Complaint

SpaceX grilled other employees about the letter, told them not to discuss their interrogations, created an impression of surveillance and barred workers from sharing the letter, NLRB spokeswoman Kayla Blado said.

The NLRB will try to reach a settlement with SpaceX. If that fails, there is a hearing scheduled before an NLRB administrative law judge in Los Angeles on March 5.

(Courthouse News Service)

Seeking Remedies

The NLRB general counsel is seeking reinstatement and back pay for the fired employees and wants to require SpaceX to post notices and provide reminders about employees’ rights.

In August 2023, the U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit claiming SpaceX discriminated against asylum seekers and refugees in its hiring process; that case is still being litigated. SpaceX has denied the allegations.


Unfair Labor Practices

Under the NLRA, an employer cannot fire or retaliate against a worker for participating in protected concerted activity, which includes making public complaints about working conditions.

The NLRA also prohibits employers from questioning employees about their union affiliation, surveilling workers to discover union activities, threatening workers who unionize or making false statements to workers about unionization.

(SHRM Online and SHRM Online)


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.