Elon Musk settled a lawsuit with thousands of underpaid and overworked employees at his company SpaceX, agreeing to pay out $4 million, Engadget reported Saturday.
Most of the 4,100 employees covered by the class action lawsuit will receive roughly $500, while some of them will get approximately $2,000. The plaintiffs’ lawyers will also receive a large cut of the payout, totaling $1.3 million.
The court concluded SpaceX violated California’s labor laws, which require periodic rest periods and meal breaks for employees.
SpaceX, headquartered in Los Angeles, not only worked its employees for long shifts without rest periods but also refused to pay them more as compensation for the demanding work schedule.
Employees claimed in the lawsuit SpaceX even forced them to work “off the clock” without any pay at all. Allegedly, company policy required that after workers recorded that their shifts ended using a timekeeper they went right back to work. SpaceX allegedly demanded more output from employees than they could possibly accomplish in normal work hours.
“SpaceX required [employees] to work off the clock without paying them for all the time they were under SpaceX’s control performing post-shift duties, specifically by failing to provide enough labor hours to accomplish all the job tasks that SpaceX expected [them] to complete,” an attorney wrote in the lawsuit. “[They] were required to clock out of SpaceX’s timekeeping system in order to perform additional work for SpaceX as required to meet SpaceX’s job requirements.”
Musk has claimed he personally works 100 hours a week and is known for demanding long hours of his employees as well.
SpaceX has not indicated whether it plans on adjusting employees’ work shifts or will continue to violate state law and risk future lawsuits. Forbes estimates Musk’s networth at $15.6 billion. If Musk chooses to continue flaunting labor laws, he can likely afford more lawsuits and settlements of $4 million.
SpaceX and Tesla, another of Musk’s companies, are infamous within the typically lucrative tech industry for paying their employees poorly. They are some of the lowest-paying companies in the industry, despite demanding gruelingly long work hours.
Another lawsuit alleged SpaceX failed to give employees proper notice before a massive layoff in July.
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