During the summers of 2015, 2016, and 2017, Julia Crowley Farenga worked as an intern at SpaceX, Elon Musk’s rocket company. During this time, she was also a student at Purdue University. According to a lawsuit filed on August 21 in Los Angeles Superior Court, she worked under the same manager during all three summers as an intern.
When she reported his sexually harassing behavior, the company retaliated, as per the lawsuit. As a result of her reporting the manager, her lawsuit states she was not hired after graduation by the company, citing that the reporting was the “motivating factor.”
In 2017, she notified human resources that the manager was making her feel uncomfortable. For example, she stated he would meet with the male interns for 30-minute one-on-one meetings, while he would hold similar meetings with her for two or three times that long. According to the lawsuit, he often conversed about non-work topics in these meetings.
Warned About Men
Her manager noted the men she spoke with and warned Crowley Farenga about them. He said, “People could get the wrong impression.” After seeing her speak with another male intern, the manager asked if he was her boyfriend. At one point, the manager told her she was unique and that he could “spend the rest of his life” trying to figure her out.
The manager left SpaceX in 2018 and started his own company.
Negative Performance Review
Crowley Farenga was transferred to another division after an HR meeting. However, after this meeting, she received her first negative performance review. Her five previous reviews were positive. She alleges she was told her work was fine. After this negative review and the end of the internship, she did not receive an offer to work at SpaceX as an employee.
After graduation, she applied to SpaceX and did well during the interview process. A senior colleague told her those interviewing her liked her very much. She claims she was later told her application was blocked by the vice-president of propulsion who had offered to place her in a different division after her complaint.
In her lawsuit, Crowley Farenga is seeking damages for:
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits
- Emotional injuries
That last category includes anxiety, depression, nervousness, and humiliation, all of which she alleges to have suffered after her SpaceX internship.
Since that time, Crowley Farenga has found a position at NASA.
SpaceX and Sexual Harassment
Crowley Farenga’s claim is far from the first concerning SpaceX and sexual harassment. In 2017, board member Steve Jurvetson took a “leave of absence” from the board and left his venture capital firm amidst sexual harassment accusations.
If you have been subjected to improper sexual conduct in or out of the workplace, contact our sexual harassment lawyers at the Whistleblower Law Group today. We can be reached by phone at 877.858.8018, by email at [hidden email].