Federal judge rules SpaceX must comply with DOJ subpoena of hiring records

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SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles, California.

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A U.S. judge ruled on Wednesday that Elon Musk’s SpaceX must comply with a Department of Justice subpoena for the company’s hiring records, opening the door to a federal probe into the company.

“Respondent SpaceX is ORDERED to comply in full with the subpoena within 21 days,” U.S. judge Dolly Gee wrote in the order.

Gee’s court reviewed the case over the past two months, following SpaceX’s objection in April to the recommendation by another federal judge that the company should be forced to comply with the subpoena.

The court’s recommendation in March stated there are “several” investigations into the company, and rejected SpaceX’s argument that the subpoena constituted “government overreach.” Gee’s court accepted those findings and that recommendation.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The DOJ probe

The DOJ’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section launched a probe last year, after Fabian Hutter, a SpaceX job applicant, complained to the government that the company discriminated against him. In an interview with CNBC earlier this year, Hutter said he believes SpaceX decided not to hire him after he answered a question about his citizenship status in March 2020 for a technical strategy associate position.

Hutter holds dual citizenship in Austria and Canada but is a lawful permanent U.S. resident, according to court records filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

However, the DOJ unit is not only investigating the complaint, but also has said it “may explore whether [SpaceX] engages in any pattern or practice of discrimination” barred by federal law.

Investigators in October issued a subpoena demanding that SpaceX provide information and documents related to its hiring and employment eligibility verification processes, to which SpaceX has not fully complied.

Hiring policies in place

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