SpaceX President Ordered to Give Deposition in Whistleblower Lawsuit
The president of Hawthorne-based SpaceX has been ordered by a judge to give a deposition in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former employee who was fired after reporting managers for allegedly pressuring technicians to ignore risks of explosions and approve tests for rocket parts. According to a news report in The Daily Breeze, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Fahey Gwynne Shotwell must attend the deposition by the end of March and that she may be questions for up to three hours by plaintiffs’ lawyers.
Fired after Complaining about Safety
The employee, Jason Blasdell, worked at SpaceX’s Hawthorne headquarters as an avionics test technician from 2010 until 2014 when he was fired, according to an employment lawsuit he filed on April 1. Blasdell said he had consistently received good work performance reviews from management until he reported safety issues relating to testing procedures of rocket parts. He questioned the quality of the testing and the risk of explosions and potential loss of human life.
While management promised to look into his concerns and complaints they also criticized Blasdell for the manner in which he communicated with them, his lawsuit states. Blasdell was eventually fired in April 2014 for being “disruptive.” The company successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket Jan. 14, but not before a failed effort in September when a rocket exploded during a test on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk attributed the blast to a fuel holding tank that buckled under pressure.
Retaliating against Whistleblowers
Federal and state laws prohibit punishing employees from blowing the whistle on employers for wrongdoing such as safety lapses or workplace harassment. Whistleblowers are essentially protected under the law. Employers cannot retaliate against applicants or employers for:
- Filing a complaint or being a witness in an investigation or lawsuit relating to workplace harassment, workplace safety violations, etc.
- Communicating with a manager or supervisor about discrimination, harassment or safety concerns in the workplace.
- Requesting accommodation of a disability or for a religious practice.
- Asking managers or co-workers about salary information to uncover potentially discriminatory wages.
Protecting Your Rights
If you have been discriminated or retaliated against as a result of your blowing the whistle on illegal activity at the workplace, it is important that you understand your legal rights. If your employer has fired you, you can file a wrongful termination lawsuit. An experienced Los Angeles employment attorney can help you fight for your rights and hold your employer accountable.