Ex-SpaceX Employee Alleges 'Frat Boy' Culture and Drinking Games at Work

By Thea Felicity

Jul 10, 2024 12:20 PM EDT

Ex-SpaceX Employee Alleges 'Frat Boy' Culture and Drinking Games at Work
SpaceX Headquarters, Hawthorne, CA.
(Photo : SpaceX/Wikkmedia Commons)

A former SpaceX employee has revealed troubling details about the company's work culture, describing it as a "frat boy" environment where colleagues joked about overseeing rocket launches while intoxicated, according to sources shared by Business Insider.

Paige Holland-Thielen, who is part of a group suing SpaceX for wrongful dismissal, said that employees used work emails to plan a drinking game called "nug and chug," where they would consume chicken nuggets and drink heavily before returning to work.

Holland-Thielen also stated that working at SpaceX felt like "babysitting for frat boys," with casual sexism being rampant. 

READ MORE: Elon Musk Has Special Privileges in China; Ex-Tesla Employees Reveal What Billionaire Receives

Alleged Sexist Environment

The lawsuit, shared by VCPost earlier this year, also claims that female employees at SpaceX were treated as "sexual objects" and references a video shown at a company holiday party that made light of sexual misconduct. 

This controversy adds to the growing scrutiny over SpaceX's work culture. Reports from Bloomberg also cited other troubling incidents involving Musk allegedly pursuing women working at SpaceX for sexual encounters, including a former intern. Affidavits signed by one of the women and other interviews formed the basis of these claims. 

Employees File Lawsuit Against SpaceX

Holland-Thielen and her co-plaintiffs have filed a civil rights lawsuit against the company, alleging that Elon Musk personally ordered their firings after they expressed concerns about his behavior and the hostile work environment in an open letter to SpaceX management.

In addition, as of June 2024, the New York Times reported that eight more former employees of SpaceX filed a lawsuit against the company and Elon Musk with similar concerns.

The lawsuit, filed in California state court in Los Angeles, describes a workplace where sexual harassment was allegedly tolerated and even mirrored by other employees, echoing Musk's online behavior. Despite internal audits and complaints to executives, including SpaceX's president Gwynne Shotwell, the plaintiffs argue that their concerns were ignored, and their activism for a better work environment led to their dismissals. 

Former executives at SpaceX supported the lawsuit and have indicated that Musk's behavior was facilitated by lax enforcement of company policies, contributing to a culture of sexism and harassment.

When asked for comments, Shotwell countered these assertions, stating that the company thoroughly investigates all harassment complaints and takes necessary actions in response.

Elon Musk has yet to comment on the issue.

READ NEXT: SpaceX Faces Labor Board Judge Over Alleged Engineer Firings Amid CEO Elon Musk Sexism Claims

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