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A Former SpaceX Employee Is Suing Over Unpaid Overtime

It's the fourth time the company has been sued by a former employee in the last two years.
Image: SpaceX

A former SpaceX employee has filed a class action lawsuit against the company alleging that it forces many of its hourly employees to "shave" time off their timesheets, does not regularly provide legally required breaks to its employees, and doesn't properly account for overtime pay.

The lawsuit, filed by Stan Saporito who described himself as a structures technician at the company on his LinkedIn profile, says that between June of 2013 and February of this year, he was regularly asked to work overtime without being paid for the extra hours.

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"SpaceX required [Saporito] and [other hourly 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," Saporito's attorney wrote in the lawsuit, which is embedded below. "[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."

Saporito becomes one of several other employees to file legal complaints about the company. In August of 2014, Bobby Lee and Bron Gatling said the company laid them off without proper notice, in violation of California law. Laura Barragan, another former employee, alleged the same in a separate lawsuit. Joseph Smith, another former employee, said that the company regularly forced him and other employees to work without compensation and had their hours shaved. All of those cases are still pending.

In addition to allegedly not being paid for overtime, Saporito says the company regularly asked him and other hourly employees to skip breaks and to round down the amount of time they worked.

"SpaceX knowingly caused a violation of the California Labor Code by directing its employees to alter the time records, or 'shave' the time worked by [hourly employees] in order to avoid paying these employees for all their time worked, including overtime worked and missed meal breaks," the suit said. "[Employees] were also from time to time unable to take 30 minute off-duty meal breaks and were not fully relieved of duty for their meal periods."

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The lawsuit says these problems continue today. Saporito is seeking back pay and additional damages for himself and other hourly employees.

SpaceX representatives did not immediately respond to a Motherboard request for comment. Update: SpaceX spokesperson John Taylor has gotten back to me: "SpaceX denies the claims made in this complaint and will refute them in court," he said.

It's no secret, however, that Elon Musk demands a lot from his workers. In a biography published this summer, author Ashley Vance quotes numerous anonymous employees who said that employees at Tesla, SpaceX, and PayPal (when Musk was in charge) were overworked and subject to being fired at a moment's notice. Such conditions are par for the course in today's technology sector; The New York Times's expose of Amazon's tough working conditions sparked plenty of back-and-forth about how much work is too much.

SpaceX Class Action