SpaceX has been acused of unlawfully firing eight workers who were critical of its multi-billionaire chief executive Elon Musk.

US labor agency accuses SpaceX of violating workers’ rights under federal labor law, following an open letter from employees in 2022, which called the company’s executives a “distraction and embarrassment”.

Former SpaceX employee Deborah Lawrence has accused the company of having a “toxic culture” where harassment is tolerated. The NLRB’s general counsel brings cases to the five-member board appointed by the organization’s president. If SpaceX doesn’t settle, the case will be heard by an administrative judge, which can be appealed.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) could order workers to be reinstated and given back pay if they violate labor law. Elon Musk’s companies have faced allegations of violating employees’ rights, including illegal firings by X, Tesla, and SpaceX, which denied wrongdoing. Musk previously denied discrimination.