A Falcon 9 rocket is on display outside Space Exploration Technologies Corp. headquarters. (SpaceX) on January 28, 2021 in Hawthorne, California.
Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images
The Justice Department’s attempt to get SpaceX to comply with a subpoena for corporate hiring data will be heard by a federal judge on March 18.
That hearing date was set Monday after SpaceX lawyers, who are contesting the subpoena, and the DOJ met via video conference with Judge Michael Wilner for a planning session. Wilner gave SpaceX lawyers until February 26 to file a response to the requested subpoena from the DOJ, after which the government was able to respond to SpaceX on March 12.
The DOJ has been investigating for months whether Elon Musk’s aerospace company is discriminating against foreigners when hiring staff, lawsuits show.
The investigation was launched by the department’s Immigrant and Workers’ Rights section after an applicant, Fabian Hutter, complained that SpaceX had discriminated against him when asked about his citizenship status during an interview for a position as a technical-strategic officer in March last year.
Hutter told The Washington City Times he believes SpaceX decided not to hire him after answering a question about his citizenship. Hutter has dual citizenship of Austria and Canada, but is a US lawful permanent resident, according to court documents filed in the US District Court for the Central District of California.
The DOJ unit is not only investigating Hutter’s complaint, but “may also investigate [SpaceX] engages in any pattern or practice of discrimination “excluded by federal law, the reports show.
As part of that investigation, researchers issued a subpoena in October requiring SpaceX to provide information and documents related to the recruitment and employment verification processes.
But SpaceX did not fully comply with the subpoena after giving the DOJ a spreadsheet of employee information.
So DOJ attorney Lisa Sandoval asked Wilner in a lawsuit last month to order SpaceX to comply with the document requirement.
Wilner, the judge, hinted in a previous filing that SpaceX might find it difficult to block the subpoena, citing a previous decision he had made in an unrelated case.
In that other case, Wilner flatly rejected one company’s arguments against complying with a subpoena for hiring information.
The DOJ has denied The Washington City Times’s request for comment on its investigation, while SpaceX has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
SpaceX is allowed to hire non-US citizens who hold a green card under the US International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
Those rules, known as ITAR, say that only Americans or foreigners with a U.S. green card can have physical or digital access to items on the U.S. ammunition list, which consists of defense-related equipment, software, and other material.
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