Labor watchdog wants SpaceX's gag clauses to disintegrate like its exploding rockets

This is why Big Biz wants to dismantle America's crucial regulators

The US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has challenged SpaceX's severance agreements, alleging the paperwork unlawfully limits what staff can say and do once they leave the rocket maker.

The complaint, filed Wednesday evening by an NLRB regional director for Seattle, says SpaceX requires its former workers to:

  • Not disclose the terms of the severance agreement.
  • Not disparage SpaceX, its officers, directors, employees, shareholders, or agents.
  • Not to voluntarily assist any litigation against the company and if compelled to do so, to notify SpaceX.

Those requirements, depending on how they're worded and the specific circumstances, are potential no-nos right now in the US.

"The complaint alleges that these unlawful employment agreement provisions have been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in the National Labor Relations Act," an NLRB spokesperson told The Register.

California-based SpaceX in January sued the labor watchdog in a Texas court claiming the government agency had interfered with its constitutional rights one day after the NLRB filed a complaint regarding SpaceX's dismissal of several workers who criticized CEO Elon Musk and other alleged unfair labor practices. Presently the court has yet to decide whether California or Texas is the proper venue for the case.

The space biz is one of several that have bitten the regulatory watchdog recently. Supermarket chain Trader Joe's, represented by the same law firm as SpaceX, has also challenged the constitutionality of the NLRB in an effort to fight labor rules enforcement. And Amazon, also facing claims of unfair labor practices, has similarly taken aim at the labor agency.

SpaceX, which reportedly has a worker injury problem, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NLRB complaint was issued after an investigation determined the charges have enough merit to warrant a formal complaint. The agency will try to reach a settlement with SpaceX and, if that fails, an administrative law judge is scheduled to hold a hearing to resolve the complaint in October.

Even if the NLRB prevails (and it passes constitutional muster with the courts), it doesn't have the option to impose any financial penalties. Instead, it intends to ensure that SpaceX notifies employees of their rights and rescinds any contract deemed illegal. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like