Bezos is working on a cutting-edge rocket system and says the company has a clear goal: to achieve ‘the first commercial space flight from the contiguous US, unimpeded by government’
SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk faces serious accusations of sexism after being ousted from his company’s board, and the current president of Amazon is now under fire for ties to the same venture.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal reported that an internal document had been sent to SpaceX employees, detailing investigations into discrimination at the company as well as safety issues at the Blue Origin space project, a rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos.
Bezos, who is an investor in SpaceX, is aiming to become the first person to provide a space flight from the contiguous US without any government assistance, working on a rocket system called New Glenn.
In response to the revelations, the Juno in Space blog published an unconfirmed report from a former Blue Origin employee, who said the workplace was suffering from “pervasive” racial discrimination.
The employee, a white male, wrote that he had been subjected to non-stop racism and harassment by “white males in the project (and outside) office.” Blue Origin says it is investigating the claims.
“Pervasive” discrimination claims are nothing new in the aviation industry. In 2011, Virgin America founder Richard Branson’s sister-in-law was fired for filing sexual harassment complaints on a sexual harassment training course. A federal judge later ruled that the training should be turned into a class action lawsuit.
Despite the risks in space travel, it’s not the first time that Musk has faced accusations of sexism. In 2013, Musk was booted from the board of a tech startup called Equal E, and his girlfriend Megan Gebbia, who founded Uber’s LA operations, sued him for workplace discrimination and discrimination based on race.
Bezos has also faced accusations of racism and mistreatment. A former employee at Amazon told Quartz that Bezos made racially insensitive comments when he was at the helm of the online retail company. Bezos denies the claims.
One of the problematic emails Bezos sent Amazon customers last year included a forward with the title “White People”.
A former Blue Origin manager claimed to the Wall Street Journal that 10 employees had filed complaints about harassment at the rocket company. Blue Origin said it is currently investigating the claims.
This year, Bezos defended his company from accusations of sexual harassment and discrimination following the firing of its London head. Former manager Francesca Essam complained that management treated female employees as commodities and required them to sleep with upper management in order to get promotions.
On Thursday, Bezos responded with a tweet: “Another white dude wrote this. This is a comic, not a business opinion. Why do people believe anything people tweet?”