Another former SpaceX employee sues over alleged labor law violations

Elon Musk, SpaceX's chief executive, at the company's Hawthorne headquarters in May.
Elon Musk, SpaceX’s chief executive, at the company’s Hawthorne headquarters in May.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Upstart rocket manufacturer and darling of the commercial space industry SpaceX is facing another lawsuit over its labor practices.

In the second of two lawsuits filed in Los Angeles County last week, a former employee alleges that the rocket maker violated state labor laws by denying workers breaks and requiring them to work “off the clock.”

The lawsuit by a former tool maker at the Hawthorne company accused Space Exploration Technologies Corp. managers of pressuring workers with schedules and workloads that denied them meal and rest breaks required by law.


The complaint also says employees were not compensated for the missed break periods and other work the company required them to perform off the clock.

The latest suit, filed Friday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, came just days after two other former employees filed a lawsuit accusing the company of improperly laying off hundreds of employees in late July without notice or compensation.

The latest complaint seeks back-pay with interest as well as other damages and penalties. It also seeks class-action status to include other hourly employees it says were treated similarly.

California labor law requires employers to provide 30-minute meal breaks for employees who work more than five hours and a second meal break if the employee works more than 10 hours. It also requires employers to allow 10-minute rest breaks for every four hours worked.

Companies are required to pay employees an extra hour of pay for each workday a meal break was not provided and an additional hour of pay for each workday when a rest break was not provided.

The suit alleges that since August 2010, the company enforced shift and break schedules that shortened, interrupted or failed to provide meal and rest breaks without employee consent.


Employees were also required to round their hours worked to the nearest 15-minute increment, according to the 31-page court filing, which contends that workers were not paid wages, including overtime, for time lost when those hours were rounded down. The suit also alleges that employees were not provided with some of the tools required to do their work and were not reimbursed for the use of tools they purchased themselves.

James Hawkins, the Irvine-based lawyer representing the former employee, Joseph A. Smith, was not immediately available for comment.

A SpaceX spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Twitter: @chadgarland