The company SpaceX, or Space Exploration Technologies Corporation as it is more formally known, was the brainchild of Elon Musk, former CEO of Tesla Motors and one of the entrepreneurs behind online payment platform PayPal. Musk started the company with lofty ambitions including making reusable spacecraft that could come back from space and be easily set up for another journey, much like normal commercial jet planes, and even growing plants on Mars.
The California based company is a prestigious place for engineers and technicians to work, and has received a lot of praise over the achievements it has already made, including making deliveries to the International Space Station under contract from NASA.
However, not for the first time, SpaceX has come under fire legally over the way its staff are treated. A recent lawsuit filed by technician Stan Saporito claims that SpaceX expect hourly paid staff to continue working unpaid off the clock, and fail to provide meal and rest breaks required under California state law.
Stan Saporito’s Claims
Stan Saporito was, according to his own resume on LinkedIn, employed by SpaceX as a structures and integration technician from summer 2013 to February 2015. He claims that staff, including himself, were asked to round down the hours they had worked when filling out time reporting, and were required to perform some post shift tasks after clocking off, and therefore unpaid. The lawsuit also claims that the company did not make enough payable hours available to complete the work expected, and so staff were expected to continue working for free, even though they were employed on an hourly basis.
The lawsuit also claims that staff were not given the meal breaks required by the laws in California, and yet were still expected to fill out time sheets as if a meal break had been taken.
Saporito is asking for a trial by jury and is ultimately seeking $5 million in damages out of this class action lawsuit.
SpaceX have not yet formally responded to the lawsuit, and have 30 days from the date it was filed to do so.
This is an interesting case because it follows on from similar lawsuits against SpaceX and their treatment of staff, two in 2014 and one in 2015.
While some analysts say that working for cutting edge start ups, particularly in high profile industries like this, does create a competitive environment where the culture may actually trend towards people doing extra unpaid work or skipping breaks in a bid to get ahead, without the company sanctioning this behavior or demanding it, it is clear by the frequency and scale of class action lawsuits against SpaceX that something does need to be done about the way employees are seeing their company’s treatment of them.
It will be of interest to the engineering and tech industry as a whole to see if Saporito wins the damages he is asking for, and whether Elon Musk makes changes to how his organization operates.
Following the third of the Republican presidential candidate debates taking place in Boulder, Colorado, there were some stand out moments amongst the candidates. Some attempted to have their defining campaign moment, others threw punches, there were attacks on the anchors, and Donald Trump did Donald Trump things. Here is a brief description of some of the exchanges.
Economy The Economy was supposedly the main theme of the debate, with candidates laying out their vision for the future of America. Senator Mark Rubio lamented the state of the economy and its lack of well-paying jobs that were being created for hard-working Americans. Donald Trump rather predictably praised the reduction in corporation taxes, and Carly Fiorina explained how she felt the current economy was ran by big business for the benefit of the wealthy not the poorest in society. It looked as though on the crowded platform these three engaged in their own debate, side-lining the other candidates.
Bush vs Rubio
Jeb Bush seemingly put Marco Rubio in his line of fire, criticizing his attendance of senatorial debate whilst on
the campaign trail. Rubio deflected the attack, claiming his campaign was for the future of America and refused to be drawn into retaliation. Chris Christie took advantage of the anti-Bush rhetoric and lamented the former Governor of Florida for his recent comments on fantasy sports. There was some substance to the claims by Bush as figures show a missed vote percentage in the 34% ballpark. However, this fails to take into account the campaigns of then senators Barack Obama and current Secretary of State John Kerry, both of whom missed between sixty and seventy percent of both votes, so the numbers suggest Rubio is doing relatively well in that regard.
Ben Carson and Mannatech
A question aimed at the former surgeon focused on his involvement and apparent endorsement of a product which recently settled a $7 million claim for deceptive marketing. Whilst there were some endorsements of the product on the part of Carson who stated he took the pill and did some speeches for the company, he denied that he endorsed the drug as a treatment for serious illness. This was reaffirmed by Angie Holan of PolitiFact.
Carly Fiorina Targets Hilary Clinton
The former Hewlett-Packard CEO seemed determined to use her position as the only female candidate to her advantage. She took aim at former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for her praise of the jobs program under President Obama claiming that during the first term of his regime ninety two percent of jobs lost were lost to women. This was a direct attack on Hilary Clinton who has sought to present herself as the champion of women in her quest to become the first woman to sit in the main chair of the Oval Office. Quite frankly, the claim is seemingly obscene. During President Obama’s first administration figures suggest the creation of four hundred thousand jobs so none of a ‘lost’ percentage could be attributed to women.
With these being only a few of the highlights from the debate, we look forward to more of Donald Trump’s pearls of wisdom at the next debate.
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