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A Falcon 9 rocket is displayed outside the Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) headquarters on January 28, 2021 in Hawthorne, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Justice sued SpaceX on Thursday, alleging Elon Musk’s space company discriminated against refugees and asylum seekers in its hiring practices.

The lawsuit says between 2018 and 2022, SpaceX “wrongly claimed” that export control laws limited its hiring to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.

The DOJ has been investigating SpaceX since June 2020, when the department’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section received a complaint of employment discrimination from a non-U.S. citizen.

“Our investigation found that SpaceX failed to fairly consider or hire asylees and refugees because of their citizenship status and imposed what amounted to a ban on their hire regardless of their qualification, in violation of federal law,” Kristen Clarke, Assistant Attorney General of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.

Clarke added that the DOJ’s investigation found “SpaceX recruiters and high-level officials took actions that actively discouraged asylees and refugees from seeking work opportunities at the company.”

SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the DOJ lawsuit.

The DOJ lawsuit seeks to win “fair consideration and back pay for asylees and refugees who were deterred or denied employment at SpaceX due to the alleged discrimination,” as well as civil penalties and policy changes from the company.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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