back to article SpaceX accused of paying less to women and minority engineers

SpaceX is facing another employment lawsuit, this time by a female former worker who claims the company pays women and minority employees less than their white male counterparts, in violation of California's Equal Pay Act. The case (23STCV24097 – PDF), filed in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles, was brought by …

  1. deadlockvictim
    Trollface

    And in a compnay run by Elon Musk as well

    It's so out of character.

  2. xyz Silver badge

    I just don't get this....

    What sort of mentality still exists where some workers are differenciated against by sex and colour? It's completely stupid IMHO. Maybe I'm just being dumb or something but I just don't understand it. What makes work exciting is having different viewpoints, ways of seeing things and ideas around. Does my head in, this closed shop crap.

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: I just don't get this....

      What sort of mentality still exists where some workers are differenciated against by sex and colour?

      It's endemic, and normally down to unconscious bias.

      The BBC recently had seven articles about GCSE/A-level successes. Every one had a picture of white or asian girls celebrating. They had one story about GCSE/A-level failures (and the need for resits) which was illustrated with a picture of two black boys,

      1. Lurko

        Re: I just don't get this....

        "It's endemic, and normally down to unconscious bias.....The BBC recently had seven articles about GCSE/A-level successes. Every one had a picture of white or asian girls celebrating. They had one story about GCSE/A-level failures (and the need for resits) which was illustrated with a picture of two black boys,"

        No, that's conscious bias. As it happens, the group that perform worst in UK school exams are white "working class" boys. But they're not even fit to be shown on the BBC.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I just don't get this....

          Worst performing because they are "the worst idlers in the world", no?

          1. Nickjd

            Re: I just don't get this....

            This is an example, often seen, of blaming boys for their failures. If school isn't engaging boys, we need to ask what's wrong with the education system, not brand them as lazy.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: I just don't get this....

              "Britannia Unchained". Read it. Weep.

              1. blackcat Silver badge

                Re: I just don't get this....

                Written by a bunch of out of touch toffs.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: I just don't get this....

                  Who are now in charge.

                  1. blackcat Silver badge

                    Re: I just don't get this....

                    Some of them barely in charge of their own faculties...

    2. AVR

      Re: I just don't get this....

      In this case the discrimination saves the company money (at least in the short term). The claim isn't that women or minorities aren't hired, just that they aren't paid as much.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I just don't get this....

        You can spin it as not refusing to hire women but surely paying lower salaries to women and minority groups has the same effect in the end?

    3. fandom

      Re: I just don't get this....

      They don't pay any less than what she agreed to.

      But of course, we all know women are nothing but damsels in distress who need to be rescued.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: I just don't get this....

        How did you negotiate your salary?

        Do you know what your colleagues earn?

        99.9% of hirings are "here's an offer, take it or leave it".

        If negotiation was routine, then there would be no stigma around discussing salary with colleagues - and yet many businesses try to ban even mentioning it.

        Otherwise you will either under or over bid, perhaps by a long way.

        Same as buying anything else, you have to compare costs before any negotiation is possible.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: I just don't get this....

          It is in the company's interest to lowball you if there is a lot of competition. It depends on the job market. The US being notorious for utter lack of worker protection combined with the ability to just walk away from a job, unless you bring something special to the table or the employer is desperate to fill a position you generally have to take what you get offered.

          The person mentioned in this lawsuit is relatively young (graduated in 2021 by all accounts) and as such has relatively little experience. If they were a 20 year veteran of some another major aerospace company then things would be different. If a prospective employer sees someone with a history of staying in jobs for only a few months at a time are they going to give you a high offer? Probably not.

        2. JulieM Silver badge

          Re: I just don't get this....

          Or, we could just have a law requiring everyone with the same job title to be paid the same amount after all deductions.

          Maybe even a law requiring the lowest-paid employee in a company and all its suppliers and contractors to be paid no less, after all deductions, than one-fifth of the net amount paid, after all deductions, to the highest-paid employee.

    4. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

      Re: I just don't get this....

      Well Musk did come from South Africa.

  3. excperr

    One of the usual suspects

  4. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    The court filing says this came to light when a California law came into force requiring salary ranges to be listed on all advertised job openings, and this revealed the band for Foltz's role was $95,000 to $115,000, meaning she was being paid less than the starting salary.

    It doesent reveal how many other people , male and female , may have been in the same boat though.

    Hopefully the court demanded contracts and wages from all staff in that dept / role to compare .

    also $95,000 = 77,793.60 Pound sterling

    Nice work if you can get it!

    1. Stu J

      "Nice work if you can get it!"

      I mean, it's literally rocket science. Also the median house price in that area's $750,000 so they have to pay a reasonable amount so people can afford to live within an hour or two's commute.

      1. katrinab Silver badge
        Alert

        And I am informed that healthcare is pretty expensive.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          It certainly isn't good value for money. At least in the UK out crappy healthcare is 'free'.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            And private healthcare is much cheaper. And less of our tax goes on healthcare spending.

            1. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

              Which is why the government should ban ALL public roads, along with fire services and the US military...all examples of ...

              1. katrinab Silver badge
                WTF?

                In the UK, you pay less tax for healthcare than in the US, and receive more for your money.

                If you decide to go private, that is a lot cheaper in the UK than in the US, like an order of magnitude cheaper.

                How does that show that the government "should ban ALL public roads, along with fire services and the US military".

                If you want to see what a private military is like, go to Russia. Would you want the Wagner Group defending your country?

                1. notyetanotherid

                  > How does that show that the government "should ban ALL public roads, along with fire services and the US military".

                  Perchance @CowHorseFrog was being sarcastic? That some US basic services are seemingly okay to be state run, but anyone suggesting healthcare should be is automatically decried as <profanity>socialist</profanity>...

                  1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

                    Yeah ! right on! free healthcare is for commies!

                    All that free National Defense though , we need that! even though its 10x the next nearest rival , thats $2405 tax dollars per head well spent!

            2. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. BryceS76

            UK vs US health costs and outcomes

            There is an interesting comparison done by the UK Office of National Statistics comparing health spending in OECD countries with life expectancy (as a general proxy for the effectiveness of healthcare).

            On the plot in Section 10 here - https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthcaresystem/articles/howdoesukhealthcarespendingcomparewithothercountries/2019-08-29#healthcare-spending-compared-with-health-outcomes the US is just such a ridiculous outlier, no other country is anywhere close.

            Their life expectancy is less than average, yet their spending per person is double what most other countries pay.

            Specifically on UK vs. US, in the UK we spend £2982 per person with a life expectancy at birth of 81.3. In the US they pay £7736 per person with a life expectancy of 78.6 (2017 figures).

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Boffin

      also $95,000 = 77,793.60 Pound sterling

      Nice work if you can get it!

      Most people in Britain don't realise how low the salaries for most jobs have got...

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Most people in the UK don't realise how insanely overpriced parts of the US are.

        Housing, basic services like mobile and broadband, food, insurance...

      2. Lurko
        Boffin

        "also $95,000 = 77,793.60 Pound sterling

        Most people in Britain don't realise how low the salaries for most jobs have got..."

        Well, excepting the fact that Americans typically work longer hours and have less holidays, so they work for 20% more time according to the OECD. So your £77.8k needs to come down to £62.2k to be a fair comparison. Then our UK cost of living is (taking a guessed median from various different report) around 14% lower than the US. So on a rough purchasing power parity that's down to £54k.

        Now I'll have that icon off you if you don't mind.

        1. Cuddles

          And that £54k is still double the median salary, and is higher than a Grade 4 civil service/public sector salary, which would be a senior engineer or scientist in a similar position at government funded facility. It may not be quite a much as the straight conversion suggests, but I'd still very much agree it sounds like nice work if you can get it.

      3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Most people in Britain don't realise how low the salaries for most jobs have got...

        Oh, I know very very well:

        Role: Senior Business Support Officer

        Hours 37 hours per week

        As a Senior Business Support Officer, you will have a wide range of responsibilities, playing a crucial role in providing day-to-day supervision and support to Business Support staff, ensuring efficient and effective financial, business process, document production, and excellent customer services support to both internal and external customers of Children's Services.

        blah blah blah ... £11.59 per hour.

        That's less than £22,000 per year. Minimum wage gets you about £20,000.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          That's an insult, anybody taking on that role with that money needs their head testing.

    3. Electronics'R'Us
      Holmes

      Pay in startups

      Some 22 years ago I was in a startup near Philly (with all the attendant issues - long hours and the like but unusually we got 3 weeks of annual holiday and other benefits not normally associated with the US employment scene).

      I was making over $120k then so it really is not an unusually large amount for an engineer.

    4. Random person

      Comparisions

      The cost of living in Hawthrone California is 49% higher than the national average in the USA.

      Hawthrone is part of Los Angeles. It is 4% more expensive to live Los Angeles than London. How does your salary compare with a London salary.

      Interestingly the average software engineer salary in Hawthrone is $138,489 (£113,418.34). It seems that being a rocket scientist doesn't pay that well.

      https://www.payscale.com/cost-of-living-calculator/California-Hawthorne

      https://livingcost.org/cost/london/los-angeles

      https://www.indeed.com/career/software-engineer/salaries/Hawthorne--CA

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Even her male colleagues are underpaid

      In L.A., even entry-level tech positions pay much more than that. See for https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/los-angeles-engineer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,11_IM508_KO12,20.htm

      I’m not surprised a Musk business is a sweatshop.

  5. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

    What, the Apartheid Era Emerald Heir Pedo Guy™ Runs Bigoted Businesses?

    Well knock me over with a GE AC6000CW locomotive!

  6. mcanada

    mgc

    The case sounds lacking in pattern of behavior. Mostly anecdotal. Where are the statistics? Tough row to hoe in court.

  7. Mr F&*king Grumpy

    To Be Completed

    And there's the side issue that SpaceX is a(nother) company that believes "Technical Writers" are unskilled workers.

    When Musk is halfway to Mars and all the red lights start flashing, he's better hope that the EMERGENCY PROCEDURES CHECKLIST was written by a well-paid, valued professional technical writer, not a propulsion engineer....

    1. Winkypop Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: To Be Completed

      “THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK”

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