Julia Crowley-Farenga, a former intern at SpaceX, has claimed that she was sexually harassed over a period of three summers. Crowley-Farenga, who is now a NASA engineer, alleges in her California labor lawsuit that she was retaliated against after reporting the sexual harassment to human resources.
Unwelcome Advances Made by Line Manager
The lawsuit, which was filed on August 21st, alleges that unwelcome advances were made by line manager Erik Palitsch. This is including two hour long meetings when male interns would get only 30 minutes. Palitsch is also said to have engaged in “possessive and jealous” behavior.
Crowley-Farenga, according to the lawsuit, told the HR department that Palitsch was singling her out. Palitsch allegedly called Crowley-Farenga unique and that he could spend his entire life just trying to figure her out.
He also warned her about being careful who she spoke to and that people could easily get the wrong impression about why she was at SpaceX.
Negative Performance Reviews Given After Reporting
Crowley-Farenga worked at SpaceX as a summer intern from 2015 to 2017 under Palitsch. However, in 2017 she reported the harassment to HR and met with the vice president of the propulsion division, Will Heltsley.
Heltsley openly accepted that Palitsch was involved in problematic behavior and offered to transfer Crowley-Farenga to a different team. She accepted the transfer since she had no other choice. However, being transferred to another line manager did not make things better.
According to the lawsuit, she was given six performance reviews. Five of these were outstanding in the first three summers. However, the sixth performance review, right after the sexual harassment complaint, was negative. Whenever Crowley-Farenga asked for feedback, she was always told that everything was fine.
Palitsch left SpaceX in 2018 to start his own business. When Crowley-Farenga applied for a full-time position at SpaceX after graduating, she was told the position was being offered to somebody with more experience.
According to the lawsuit, Heltsley had allegedly prevented her from getting the position, as she later learned. Heltsley told her in January 2018 that her low performance was a major reason why she was not being hired. He also said that she could apply for rehire.
The lawsuit states that another lead engineer in her department did not find any reason for her not getting the job.
Managing Agents of SpaceX Involved in Misconduct
The lawsuit names Palitsch, Heltsley and others for indulging in misconduct, including gender complaints. The managers are accused of:
- Willful disregard of Plaintiff’s right to be free from unlawful retaliation and discrimination
- Demonstrating callous indifference for Plaintiff’s rights and law
- Intentionally causing financial and emotional injury
The NASA engineer is currently seeking damages for emotional injuries, including anxiety, embarrassment, nervousness, humiliation, pain, discomfort, fatigue, depression, and shock.
Get in Touch with a Competent Sexual Harassment Lawyer in California
If you or a loved one has been a victim of sexual harassment at the workplace, then you should be prepared to bring the perpetrator to justice. For reliable legal advice, speak to one of the knowledgeable sexual harassment attorneys at Makarem & Associates in California. Call 310-312-0299 today or email at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.