At least five employees were fired by the private rocket company SpaceX after preparing and circulating an open letter criticizing founder Elon Musk and urging startup executives to make the company’s work culture more inclusive, according to two people familiar with the matter.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
The New York Times reported on Thursday that SpaceX had fired employees associated with the letter, citing three employees with knowledge of the situation.
It did not detail the number of employees who had been laid off.
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell sent an email saying the company had investigated and “terminated a number of employees involved”[ads1]; with the letter, the New York Times said.
The newspaper said Shotwell’s email said employees involved in circulating the letter had been fired for making other employees feel “uncomfortable, intimidated and bullied, and / or angry because the letter forced them to sign something” which did not reflect their views “.
Reuters could not independently confirm this report.
The previously open letter to SpaceX executives seen by Reuters had called Musk a “distraction and embarrassment” for the company he founded.
A list of three requirements stated in the letter: “SpaceX must quickly and explicitly differentiate itself from Elon’s personal brand.”
It added: “Hold all managers equally responsible for making SpaceX a great place to work for all” and “define and respond uniformly to all forms of unacceptable behavior”.