A 62-year-old former SpaceX engineer says Elon Musk’s company discriminated against him based on age during his time there.
John Johnson was hired in 2018 at the age of 58 for his expertise in an industry called optical engineering, which happens to be critical to a range of applications related to the aerospace company’s work.
Musk requires his employees to be “hardcore” and work extremely long hours at Twitter, SpaceX and Tesla. In his essay published on the Lioness platform, Johnson makes a point to say that he often works 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week at the company’s California offices – and received consistently positive feedback from managers throughout his career. performance reviews.
“As we enter this new era of wealthy industrialists taking the helm of the largest technology companies, I feel compelled to tell my story because I believe it is essential that their workforces reflect all demographics of our pluralistic society, not just the male-dominant youth culture that permeated my former workplace,” Johnson writes.
A 62-year-old former SpaceX engineer says Elon Musk’s company discriminated against him based on age during his time there
“As we enter this new era of wealthy industrialists taking the helm of the largest technology companies, I feel compelled to tell my story because I believe it is essential that their workforces reflect all demographics of our pluralistic society, not just the male-dominated youth culture that permeated my former workplace,” writes John Johnson
After his firing in June, Johnson filed a complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission alleging that SpaceX discriminated against him based on age and then retaliated.
DailyMail.com reached out to SpaceX’s press office for comment, but did not hear back before publication.
In early 2019, Johnson injured his back and was in physical therapy for weeks, but he did not miss a single job. When his back didn’t get better he had to have surgery and told his manager he would only be out for a few days and gave him a list of tasks he was working on.
Johnson claims that SpaceX went behind his back and recruited an engineer to permanently take over his supplier development role and also internally reassigned a buyer to take over his procurement role.
John Johnson (above) was hired by SpaceX in 2018 at age 58; he alleges ageism
“These young men in their 20s and 30s came up to me just before my surgery and scheduled meetings to download about everything I was doing in those areas,” Johnson writes.
‘Then they organized a tour to get to know the suppliers; despite my months of supplier contact and the fact that I was the bridge between internal requirements and external supplier capabilities, I was not even invited to accompany them.’
Johnson claims that all the employees brought in to take over his duties were decades younger and had steep learning curves. He also says it wasn’t his manager who brought them in – but it seemed to come from managers at Starlink, which was run by Mark Juncosa, who has been called one of the moguls. “young loyalists.”
When Johnson told his manager that he believed ageism was a problem, it was reported to Human Resources and they assured him that it all stemmed from “misunderstandings.” HR told him to keep an eye on internal vacancies.
In early 2021, Johnson’s new manager told him he had been hired in a non-management track.
According to Johnson, a production engineer assigned to “shadow” him said his Starlink manager had said that Johnson “might retire or die.”
“I was 61, with six years left until the standard retirement age, even though I was considering retirement — which I wasn’t. I wasn’t sick or overweight, and I’m generally quite healthy,” he explains in the essay.
Johnson claims that SpaceX went behind his back and recruited an engineer to permanently take over his supplier development role and also internally reassigned a buyer to take over his procurement role
‘I replied that my age could not be a legal reason for an assignment. The engineer, recognizing the egregious situation, reported it to HR a few minutes later.”
Months later, that Starlink manager was promoted. Johnson even contacted SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell. After being assured that they would investigate his claims, he was never heard from again and was later told that business conditions had changed and SpaceX no longer had any work for him in his field.
According to Johnson, there were quite a few vacancies at the time, including in the field of Starlink optics.
After reading the writing on the wall, Johnson handed in his resignation.
“Musk is now closer in age to Social Security than to the sea of fresh-faced graduates his company employs,” Johnson writes. “At what age will he be when this mostly young staff starts to worry that he will ‘retire or die’?”
This isn’t the first time SpaceX employees have commandeered a discriminatory environment.
Three women interns at SpaceX said they experienced sexual harassment and unwanted advances from other interns and senior leaders in a series of incidents, a New York Times report said.
In November 2021, a former SpaceX employee filed a lawsuit against the company alleging racial discrimination, nationality discrimination, retaliation, and breach of contract.